Someone rings the bell at 9:30 a.m. and gets the hell out of the way. All types of chaos erupt from second-to-second. Everyone knows, in real-time, what they made or lost.
Users drive the system. Not management. Management’s nowhere to even be seen. It’s merged within the light-speed, low-cost software and processes that make the whole thing possible.
In short, stock exchanges are the ideal business model — the perfect example of how you must organize around the customer, or bust! It’s run from the bottom-up, not the top-down… It’s a real-life, real-time network!
Today, that’s even more critical. Why? Survival. Survival of the fittest, to be precise.
Recent statistics from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry — the guys who push and promote the record industry worldwide — show that revenue fell below $15 billion in 2014. It’s fallen every year from 1999’s figure of $26.6 billion! NPR also discussed that platforms like Spotify that give listeners free access to much of the world’s recorded music is quickly killing the increasingly outdated CD… and its younger sibling the MP3!
But that is the new trend: Make it as easy for the consumer as possible!
Talent shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent, The X Factor, and The Voice that dominate the TV ratings are a great example of how businesses in that industry are ensuring their future survival.
In the good ol’ days, talented new singers or performers had to struggle to find a good agent that was connected to the best producers or record labels. They paid clubs just for the opportunity to perform in hopes that someone would discover them. They lived in tiny apartments and ate dry crackers and cheese, affording the minimum to survive so they could focus on their dream.
Agents didn’t give a damn. They didn’t have the time of day for thousands of wannabe artists desperate to strut their stuff… not unless one of their high-and-mighty contacts or associates recommended someone. It was a top-down, dog-eat-dog environment. The listeners and viewers were at the mercy of the system. They could only consume what was put in front of them.
Talent shows have turned that world on its head. You don’t have to be a starving artist to have a chance. But the competition’s even more fierce! Thousands of people can now line up — in person, or via YouTube submissions — to a captive panel of decision makers. They put them in front of us… and WE choose who we want to listen to or not.
In this bottom-up system, the cream rises to the top, even from the most unknown layers of society. Once those with real talent have separated themselves from the delusional, their success no longer rests on the shoulder of a disinterested agent or inflexible music house. Major new stars, like Jennifer Hudson or Colton Dixon, have emerged solely out of this process. They became stars overnight based on consumer demand. Their predecessors? By luck or connections.
This, in essence, is the work of the invisible hand — a free market, bottoms-up process that requires good political, legal, and financial systems, with minimal regulations. It’s a place where the consumers get to choose what they wish to consume, instead of being told. Win-win. That’s the motto of the new network economy.
And the key is innovation. Finding ways to constantly make improvements… learning lessons from failures… being flexible and fearless enough to make radical changes. Shows like The Voice completely changed the way singers are judged, the way the judges interact, and the way to best get consumers what they want.
That is the lesson for businesses in this time of rapid change. We’re in a time that will only usher in the new network model more rapidly, as entrepreneurs increasingly rely on the thread of interconnectivity to last this winter economic season. Businesses that want to prosper must learn to adapt with these changes… and fight if they want to survive.
If you run a business, take some pointers from this network model. Establish and build your Internet presence. Have someone test your website to ensure its usability — and profitability! Hire a digital marketer. Hire a keyword researcher — freelance them if necessary! Find ways to help existing and potential customers feel like they have a voice.
Let them collaborate with you… don’t just keep doing the same old thing because it’s worked for years! A new standard has been set, and customers won’t be willing to work as hard to get what they want from your business if your competitors are doing a better job.
Follow me on Twitter @harrydentjr
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