In the Chasm

A few years ago, when brick-and-mortar companies were bizarrely resisting (in hindsight for them) selling over the Web there were a couple of factors contributing to how Business viewed the channels to reach potential markets. One of course was the technology. Just like with the advent of credit cards so many years ago, consumers freaked about privacy and security. So did businesses. Now even McDonald’s accepts credit and debit cards, and most companies now have some level of ecommerce, too. It’s accepted now. Back in the late 90s, ecommerce was a novelty.

When we first talked about starting Business Logs, blogs were not used very widely in business. Just in the past 6 months there has been a rise in corporate blogging. And it continues to grow, from CEOs to the analyst level. And it will grow and grow and grow, until it just is. Then we will all start fidgeting while we go through the next online evolution.

Blogs are following a similar path of adoption as ecommerce did, only I think it is happening much faster. Companies have learned from their experience with opening channels to more markets through the web, and blogs function in much the same way. It is often more a communication channel than a commerce channel, but the similarity is there enough that the adoption rate will probably have it’s typical bell-shaped curve, but when compared to the timeline of ecommerce the hump will occur much sooner in the cycle.

What will we do with this information? We can look at ecommerce as a guide for promoting, integrating, and managing business logs. There are a lot of lessons learned from the ecommerce growing pains that we can look to, and avoid, in building business logs as just another way to manage a successful business. Blogs will have their own particular idioms of course. Intellectual property issues. Trade secrets unintentionally leaking out. Privacy and security (not idiomatic of course). An analyst has a bad day at work and complains about her companies business ethics.

These are all issues we will have to work through, but I think that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Yep, it depends, and noting that is the start. The next step is truly investigating to what level this medium will benefit your company. Find that balance between risk and opportunity that is particular to your case and build from there.

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4 Responses to “In the Chasm”

  1. Martin Says:

    Very valid, Matthew, but I think you left one important issue out… Hype.

    Ultimely, hype was one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) problem of the boom. Everyone had to have an e-commerce store. And they did. Predictably, the ineffecient ones were weeded out over time. But it took a while.

    I think we’re going to see a massive business adoption of blogs over the next two years or so. The market will probably be flooded with rubbish. The uninformed will write it off as another failure of “that internet thing”. And then, slowly but surely, the strong will survive.

    This assumed pseudo-predictability isn’t going to make it less interesting though!

  2. Paul Scrivens Says:

    Hey Martin, I am sure Matthew will get back to you on this one, but I thought I would offer my perspective.

    During the boom everyone was making money easily it seemed and therefore you had a million people putting up the next great thing without any market resistance. Blogs on the other hand already have a market voice in the sense if your blog doesn’t fit well in the blogosphere then it just won’t work.

    Companies will find this out quickly as they can’t force success with their blogs and throw money behind it like they could with e-commerce stores.

    I think that is the major difference between now and then.

  3. Matthew Oliphant Says:

    I think I must have too much hope that businesses, and more importantly investors, are smarter now than they were 6 or 7 years ago. I know what you mean about the hype, and I know that business logs will go through it too.

    Paul is right on with the idea that no amount of money will make a blog successful if all you have to throw at it is the money.

    Blogs are rcommerce (reputation commerce). If you mess up a sale in the ecommerce world, but your product/service is still valuable, you may survive. Mess up your rcommerce… it can be difficult to recover (and may affect related ecommerce).

    That’s why you have to plan well and not just do it because everyone else is doing it.

  4. Martin Says:

    I agree with you guys, it’s about not being able to buy respect.

    It may be that the entry-to-failure timespan of pretenders will be much shorter…?

    As you say Matthew, it’s all about planning – however, as we know, the uninformed masses don’t always heed this warning, so I think we’ll still sit with a heap of junk to sift through! Then again, sifting tools are getting better and better (think RSS), so the problem won’t necessarily be that bad.