Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mobile + Social Nets drive massive change in Communications + Commerce

Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley recently gave her annual "State of the Mobile Internet" presentation and the themes that she reviewed were illuminating.  What was most interesting wasn't Apple's latest antics or regulation or the  'investment' story but specifically her item number 3:  Next Generation Platforms because of what it says about what adoption of mobile tools and the spread of social networks is likely to do to the way institutions organize and manage their businesses.  Linked In, Facebook, even demonstrate that the boundary between being 'inside' an organization and 'outside' is blurring.  I can sell for a company using its tools, processes and collateral without being an employee.  As an employee, I can join Facebook or Linked In groups that offer me far more professional fulfillment than my employer and indeed, I may end up being more loyal to them, to the profession or the tribe than to those who pay me.

The ubiquity of mobile devices and their always on access and applications radically enables many, many different types of working relationships that blur the distinction between insider and outsider.  Historically if a company wanted something done and done right, it needed to completely control the individual executing the task - that person needed to be closely supervised, trained and use specialized tools to deliver the company's solution into the market.  The mobile internet undermines that model decisively.

We are working with a small transportation technology company:  Freighthunter who has developed a PDA based application designed to manage the error fraught shipping and receiving interface between enterprise vendors and their customers.  Essentially what FH has done is to create a standardized workflow that any trucker, no matter who he works for can utilize when delivering to a given buyer for a given vendor.  The most clever part of the vision is that before the driver arrives at the delivery point he can use the solution to view customer specific training:  say 10 minutes on how to deliver to Walmart.  When he gets to the customer site, he follows a specific customer/vendor workflow, for example a WM and P&G joint receiving workflow that is spelled out for him on the PDA - if he doesn't follow it to the letter, he doesn't get paid the service premium.  Finally, the tool enables that specific paired relationship's variables, metrics and tasks to be executed in real time.  The result:  the Walmart/P&G order/bill of lading/delivery/receipt relationship is managed perfectly by a person who doesn't work for either company and may not even have been exposed to them before that day.

How will that person get hired to deliver for WM/PG?  Through a brokerage that will look more and more like a social network - with rules for membership, professional standards and visibility into each member's performance against those standards.  Those that don't cut the mustard won't be allowed to remain part of the group.  And the group will interact with its clients through ubiquitous client specific applications and training loaded Just In Time on that person's mobile device at precisely the moment that they need it to execute the service.

That's the power of the mobile internet:  deliver specific, high quality vendor/customer outcomes through any qualified service provider.  It's a big wave that could overturn a lot of old freighters out on the Openwater.

1 comment:

  1. Bill: Outstanding dialog and ideas.