eBusiness is Out; weBusiness is In — What Are You Doing To Change?

In a speech to the World Innovation Forum in 2010, Andreas Weigend, the former Chief Scientist of Amazon.com, explained how the Internet has evolved from “eBusiness,” where the company was at the center and communicated to you, to “meBusiness,” where you are at the center and communicate to companies, to “weBusiness,” where the company steps aside and facilitates customers communicating with one another. Successful companies are learning how to concede control to customers, become facilitators for customers to communicate and interact with each other – and to profit from the new model in which data and data analytics play a big role.

Conceding control to customers can be difficult, but it’s today’s business reality for many organizations. Consider something basic like product knowledge. Chances are that you have customers who know more about your products and services than many of your employees. Instead of being the sole focal point for support and information, companies are creating a way for customers to share information and provide support to each other. Consider something more complex like your brand. Now, more than ever, your brand is influenced by actions rather than words (“customer service is the new marketing”) and could be shaped more by your customers as they communicate their opinions and recommendations to others than by the advertisements you use to communicate it to them

So what are you doing to step aside and help customers interact with one another and how can it help you sell more? In How To Use Data Analytics In Your Personal Life, one of the key features of many of the devices and websites is the ability to upload personal data, share it with others and compare it to aggregated results of all other users. Sharing data with others lets users inform people about what they’re trying to accomplish, show others how well they are performing against a goal, and provides motivation to continue, knowing that other people are tracking their progress. Comparing data to others provides context to help users better understand the data they create and a way for them to gauge their progress or even compete against others.

How you take advantage of this user-created data to benefit your company will be driven by your creativity and innovation. The data itself can be used as content for a press release or as the inspiration for your next product or service. Every time someone shares their data with a person who doesn’t use your product or service, you get a free introduction and personal recommendation. Every time someone decides to continue using your product because other people might be tracking their progress you enhance the longevity of what you provide. Every time someone new joins the group, you add to an interested and involved community who can support each other and contribute knowledge and ideas to help make your product and service even better. A single individual can have a broad reach – I can potentially reach almost seven million people just through my 300 contacts on LinkedIn, for example.

With concerns over data privacy, it’s been surprising that people are very willing to share even private information when they are trust that it will be used properly. INGCompareMe is a tool that allows you to define the characteristics of a comparable peer group and compare your bank balance, savings and investment levels against the group. NetworthIQ allows you to share and compare your net worth while keeping track of your personal finances. The “weBusiness” model can be applied to companies in many different industries. How are you applying it to your company?

Steve McDonnell
Spotfire Blogging Team