Oliver Young has kicked off an interesting debate with his post “Web 2.0 Represents A Fundamental Rethinking Of Business, And The Theory Of The Firm.” Young believes that “[o]ver the next 10 to 15 years, on the back of social software, we will go from a fundamentally closed value creation system to a fundamentally open one”.
Andrew McAfee considers this to be an exaggeration of the current situation. He indicates that:
Most of us who study the new technologies of interaction, collaboration, and collective intelligence agree that they have great potential to enable more open systems for creating economic value. But we need to be very careful with our claims about how closed things are at present. It’s not useful to present our current system a fundamentally closed one in which firms work only within themselves to create value. That’s not a helpful strawman; it’s a counterproductive caricature.
Here are a couple of my thoughts on the matter:
Certainly, new social technologies have the potential to reduce barriers to participation and create value for businesses at the same time as they deliver value to customers (e.g. aggregating and connecting content, ideas, behaviours and resources to create personalised buying recommendations, and new product and service offerings).
However, familiar longstanding challenges remain and are compounded by the effect of those technologies. Namely, that people still need the skill to spot opportunities for creating value, and must now do so from increasing flows of information and interaction. Furthermore, a more open value creation system means companies must relinquish (to a certain degree) control over the creation process. Traditionally this has been very difficult for companies to do. The technology may be there, but it needs to be accompanied by the right mindsets and skills to be truly useful.