Ladies en gentlemen, I would like to share some ideas on Emergent Collectives and why I think they are important. But first some considerations on the current state of technology.
Upper partTechnology and specially Information and Communication Technology is evolving at a tremendous speed. Internet-related ICTs became all too quickly mature and to a great extent very useful. Ripened fruit that could be harvest by those who saw new ways of doing business. Lower partSome called them “break technologies”, meaning that these technologies break existing supply chains and value networks in more than one industry.
Some examples are: the records labels who see their CDs and DVDs replaced by downloads, television stations become obsolete due to augmenting content available on iPADs, tablets and PCs including sitcoms, movies and news bulletins. But also the propriety software developers like the big ERP vendors who becoming more and more attacked by open software communities. Cloud Computing that takes IT out of the organisation.
This all can largely be summarized as the digitalization of society and the broadband access to the Internet. This is of course nothing new for you all.
Clayton Christensen has researched disruptive innovations, so the phenomenon is more than well known to predict what will happen.
One the most compelling and painful example of this evolution is probably the oncoming collapse of Eastman Kodak.
Petrie (2011) refers to this as an ant colony in which her behavior, and intelligence is the result of the rather mindless interactions of individual ants following simple protocols of interaction that result in qualitatively different global behavior. To explain this phenomenon, Petrie introduced to concept of “Emergent Collectives” (EC) as the combination of emergent control networks, tools, and incentives that motivate people to act collectively. The motivation for collectively acting lays within the capacity of the networks to scale and to increase value for the user.
Upper partA necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the take-off of an EC is the speed by which data can be interchanged. A speed of 15Mbps is a strict minimum. According to the IUT by 2015 entry-level broadband services should cost less than 5% of the average monthly income. In Europe 11 of 15 countries has already affordable broadband services with sometimes only 0,3% of the monthly income.Lower partNot only the speed matters but also the degree of mobility of the connection. Users do not access the Internet at a specific place (and time) but anywhere and at anytime, since they are highly mobile with their Smartphones.
This brings us to the next condition for an EC to become airborne: the customization and consumerization of IT and the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to the company. Users today do not depend anymore on IT only available within the boundaries of a company, but can chose to use IT anywhere, at home, at the office and on the road. Tablets, BlackBerries, iPhones, and iPads are becoming commodities at an increasing speed and are capable to support almost every possible application (apps). Access to the Internet by these devices comes in a wide variety of protocols (3G, 4G, WIFI) and at high speeds. These powerful mobile stations drives the users out of the office and out of the organization.
The disruptive usage of Internet-related ICTs all have in common that the content is under control of the user. Even Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook is now not in control of all the produced content on his platform. Although he stays in control of the whole Facebook platform; which is of course another issue to be concerned of. This makes the difference between an email system, which is merely an application and Facebook or Twitter which are social communities of people.
The spontaneous questions that comes up by most business managers is then: If we can’t control it will the absence of a centralized control mechanism than lead to anarchy and chaos? The answer is definitely no! Millions of people are using social media on a daily basis, in their job, at home and on the road. Although social media seems to have the power to change politics and government, as one could observe during the Arab spring last year, they do not aim at chaos. Chaos is merely a side-effect. And of course there are hackers who try to play their role in the piece, but their roles are extras.
But who’s in charge of this all? And where is this behavior leading to? The control lays in the protocol of the movement or the emergence.
Telecoms still struggle with ECs since they cannot control the broadband access due to WIFI. The walled gardens are under attack. Fundamentally there are two major ways to make money, generate more revenues than expenses (differentiator) or cut expenses below revenues (cost leadership). These models are grounded in the economic climate of the older ecosystems, with well-defined markets and centralized control of the businesses.
The response of large enterprises was always adding extra layers of complexity to their control systems to gain back control of a market. However this leads to complexity-driven organizations with large fixed costs. Somewhere this ever increasing organizational complexity must come to an end. The end is near when the additional complexity has a negative marginal value due to the law of diminishing returns. Indeed, current markets do not reward these complexities anymore, thus leading to a collapse of inflexible institutions.
We live in a globalizing world with a commoditization and digitalization of almost everything, from our way of living, working, studying, sleeping, to our way of doing business. I believe that ECs will change our society in fundamental ways. In the new evolving ecosystems everybody will be customer and supplier.On YouTube everybody can upload movies and look to the movies of his peers. Every single individual has become an independent one-person business. But the digital interaction of individuals is now a mixture of leisure and work. The boundaries of the workplace and the privacy of the home are becoming vague. This give raise to explore new business models that hopefully embrace ICTs instead of trying to control them. Traditional economies will not fit anymore in that user pattern. It looks that large companies are under pressure just because of their size and complexity. The competitive advantages of the early days, become more and more handicaps in current times. Centralized control of a market or a service offering is less feasible since users want to be in control of their own content, hereby helped with Internet-related ICTs and emerging social media.
For example business are now asking themselves should we allow Twitter and Facebooks in the organization or should we banish? Some companies inhibit the use of social media within business hours. Other companies introduce organizational slack like Tinker Time, like the Google 80/20 Formula 80% on core projects and 20% on their own innovative ideas and passions. The money making capacity lays now within the ECs and is ready to be carefully discovered.Smart business are now trying to simulate ECs to predict future emergences. The future is for the real entrepreneurs and innovators who discover the potential of EC and dare to offer a sound business model and plan.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) areBreak Technologies
Downloads ousts CD sales TV stations become obsolete Open Source versus Propriety Software Do we need a CIO ?