IBM, via its Institute for Business Value, has released an interesting (though not particularly radical) report, titled Value 2.0 – Eight new rules for creating and capturing value from innovative technologies.
A separate, Executive Summary document, provides a concise overview of ‘the rules’:
RULE #1: Grab and monetize the long tail of demand.
RULE #2: Get ready – Your customers value digital content.
RULE #3: Jump in – Virtual worlds are real business.
RULE #4: Trust the network – It really does know more than you.
RULE #5: Embrace customers.
RULE #6: Use social networks to create solutions.
RULE #7: Embed flexibility in business models and information systems.
RULE #8: Foster rapid, collaborative innovation in the enterprise.
As mentioned, there is nothing radical here. Much of the observations and recommendations articulated in the report cover ground that has already been well debated in both mainstream press articles + academic research over the past decade.
So why did IBM bother with the report?
The answer, I believe, lay with recognising who IBM’s core constituents are: conservative Fortune 500 companies.
It wasn’t all that long ago that IBM was viewed as the safest hands in the business (a view its marketing divisions certainly played to). The axiom on many technology purchasers’ minds was that "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM equipment".
(Of course, Big Blue had its own period out in the cold, as a result of a disastrous strategy it adopted in the early 90s to disaggregate the company in order to respond to the perceived obsolescence of mainframe computers – a strategy Lou Gerstner put the kibosh on in 1993 – but I digress…)
The point is that IBM remains one of the most reliable bellwethers of the conservative technology consumer segment.
When we see IBM starting to mimic the sorts of themes outlined in its Value 2.0 report, it is a good sign that this conservative segment of the technology ‘mass market’ is ready to embrace the kinds of change expounded.
The implication of this is that we are likely to see an accelerating adoption of digital channels as a fundamental component of business value networks (as distinct from ‘value chains’), as well as diminished resistance to the notion of allowing other ‘actors’ (including suppliers and consumers) to play a role in the development of new products and services delivered via these digital channels.
That has to be good news for ‘consumers’ (both B2B + B2C), as well as product/service and business innovation generally.