The Role of Social In The Future Enterprise

Social media is like search engine optimization. It is easy to self-educate, it is slightly complex, but it is also game-like. In both cases the market or audience gives you feedback – you get likes or Tweets or analytics that tell you how many readers you got and who liked what. You know where to go next with it.

What it also does is distract you from the real purpose of communications – figuring out something valuable to say and laying it out for people to make a judgment or a contribution.

Are social media activities the best ways for an economy or an enterprise to market products? A low friction economy would rely on individuals to communicate their preferences to friends word of mouth. Continue reading

Everyone Beware: Microsoft is Alive Again and May Become an Elastic Enterprise

A giant has awakened.  Microsoft’s alliance with Barnes and Noble is a major market signal. It should be a wake up call for everyone.  Yes, it’s a great deal for Barnes and Noble and just what the doctor ordered (see my previous blog on B&N). But, it also builds up Microsoft’s business platforms and adds an established e-commerce engine to Microsoft’s repertoire that could add to the appeal of Windows 8.

Yes there are detractors. On Yahoo Finance’s Daily Ticker, Dan Gross quipped, “The desperate got married to the hopeless,” and Henry Blodget added “My guess is that this is rearranging deck chairs.”  I am a fan of both commentators. But, in this case, there is more to the story. The bigger story is about the overlooked overhaul and transformation of Microsoft, the company. Continue reading

Netflix and Its API Strategy: Benefits and How-TO

Netflix have a Slideshare presentation about their API strategy which just about beats anything I’ve ever read as an explanation for how to make an API strategy work. It’s only a little bit technical, which is necessary, and wonderfully describes the business priorities that go into shaping the API strategy. I particularly like the way it illustrates scale – the Netflix API handles 10 billion requets per month (as of November 2010) and peaks at 10,000 per second. Presenter is Michael Hart – be sure to read the speaker notes.

Social Business and The Elastic Enterprise

How does the Elastic enterprise relate to that other big meme of the day: social business? I’ve begun exploring that over on Forbes, in response to Alistair Rennie’s piece on the same topic (and updated my post on what is a social business here).

The point about social business is that many companies are exploring different aspects of social (social media, collaboration) BUT they tend to do that in something of a strategic black hole. Social business is actually a process objective – do things better. Companies looking at social should take care to set strategic goals – that’s where the Elastic Enterprise comes in. Continue reading

What iCloud Tells us About the Benefits of the Elastic Enterprise to Us

The concept of elasticity implies that business is not naturally bounded in any traditional sense. Not bounded by an employee base, by limits on communications, or by intellectual resources which are often the most important resource for new online businesses, or by their traditional place in one industry or market.

Of course no area of human activity is totally unbounded, something will always pull us back or limit our activity.

Elasticity though implies organizations that are more free to expand than they were in the past, and more free to roam, to stretch themselves through radical adjacency into other areas of the economy.

Cloud infrastructure is an essential part of that capability and Apple’s iCloud is a good example of what it will mean for individuals. Continue reading

Radical Adjacency Strategy Revs Up

I wrote this over on Forbes a couple of months back. It’s really relevant to the Elastic Enterprise so, forgive some of the duplication, I wanted to air the issues again. This was written when I was trying to introduce the term and the idea. Another reason for raising it is we are very interested to hear of examples of radical adjacency – those that are working and those not.  Seen any? Would you like to comment? Continue reading

Defining Radical Adjacency

The Signficance of Radical Adjacency

Radical adjacency is the most important change to corporate strategy in decades. It is wildly important but not just because it represents a significant change to the way companies envision their future. The importance lies in the remarkable success rate of its best exponents.

A simple definition:

A radical adjacency is an acquisition or market move that takes the buyer or executing company into areas where its management has no, or little, current experience.

A more detailed explanation would include the methods that companies use to achieve sucess with radical adjacency. In general they are the five pillars that we have documented in The Elastic Enterprise. Radical adjacency and elasticity are two sides of the same coin.

So what is radical adjacency and how does it work?

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Beyond Innovation

Ten Things to Think About In Place of Innovation

Innovation is something of a bogey – every company needs it, not many companies know where to go with it, investors want to hear about it. But actually innovation is really about methods that lead to small scale renewal. The big challenge is not innovation, it is transformation, or revolution. Nick and I listed out ten things we think people should think about instead of innovation:

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The Even More Curious Case of Leading Companies Without Leaders

The Sapient Leader

Corporate leaders need access to a much richer set of experiences than in the past. They need to shape a broader range of people, experts, markets, projects, across the globe. They need a broader knowledge base in order to do this. And they need curiosity as much as they might need charisma so they can grasp the potential of these disciplines and new global markets. But above all else we say that the sapient leader is not about personalities.

Is there a contradiction there?

To explain what we mean we’re going to look at BMW. The experience of BMW led us to many of the ideas and concepts that have gone into the Elastic Enterprise, so let me explain!
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The Strange Case of Companies that Grow in Recession

From 2007 and the onset of recession a small group of companies began enjoying exceptional sales and profit growth. Companies like Apple and to name just two. They didn’t just grow. They didn’t just begin to enjoy their best ever years. More significantly, they began performing like no other company before them.

Apple’s revenues in the third quarter of its 2010-2011 fiscal year were up 82% and profits were up 125%. This would be a supreme achievement at any time but the summer of 2011 was not a holiday period, where sales tend to be strong. And the economy still teetered on the edge of recession.

Apple was not just succeeding wildly. On the way to record profits, Steve Jobs’ team had created monumental disruption in a product category (smartphones) that the company had inhabited for a total of only four years. Shortly after entering smartphones, Apple created a new product category (tablets) single handedly with the launch of the iPad.

This was unusual success heaped on top of astonishing corporate performance.

In Amazon’s case, there is a similar tale of total novelty. With the launch of the Kindle ebook reader, the online retailer suddenly converted itself into a device company, a move that would normally spell chaos. At the same time Amazon also pioneered what became known as “platform as a service” and “cloud computing”, a revolution in how companies source their IT needs. Like Apple it opened new horizons for itself during the recession by doing what companies should not do – move into adjaceny markets with entirely new products.

In 2010/2011 Amazon’s revenues from its consumer electronics business line surged 69%, during an extremely weak recovery from recession. The remarkable feature of Amazon’s growth is that its profits briefly fell during the period, yet its share price rose. Barron’s called it a “religion stock”, one you believe in or don’t.

So why do people believe, and what is it people believe in? What is the bigger story behind these and similar successes?
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