There’s money to be made in providing a proper service

According to a report by RSM Robson Rhodes Business Consulting called The Silent Scream of the Unloved Customer British blue-chips would make 35 per cent more profits if their businesses actually gave customers what they wanted. Looking at the FTSE100 alone, that would add up to in excess of 20 billion GBP per year. The report found that 80 per cent of customers think that companies do not fully meet their expectations. You can get the report by asking them nicely.

With 20 billion to play for in the UK alone, there’s got to be a business opportunity there somewhere.

Mass intermediation


Back in the day one of the buzzwords of the dotcom era for media companies and and businesses looking to get online was disintermediation. Here is whatis.com’s definition:

Disintermediation is giving the user or the consumer direct access to information that otherwise would require a mediator, such as a salesperson, a librarian, or a lawyer. Observers of the Internet and the World Wide Web note that these new technologies give users the power to look up medical, legal information, travel, or comparative product data directly, in some cases removing the need for the mediator (doctor, lawyer, salesperson) or at the very least changing the relationship between the user and the product or service provider.

For the media it meant that they looked to preserve their advertising revenues by moving their publications online and in some cases substituting newspaper sales with online subscriptions. Web portals like Yahoo! and Excite! provoked debate over disintermediation in the late 1990’s.

Now web bloggers and Google News have put it back on the agenda again. By going to Google News, news links could be plucked from some 5,000 English speaking sources worldwide.

With bloggers, the media moguls have realised that the process has been turned on its head with ‘mass-intermediation’. They are concerned that that this eclectic link selection process will have a detrimental effect on subscriptions, readership figures and advertising revenues. Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal is taking the unprecedented step of making the US online version of the paper free for a week from November 8th to encourage take up and discussion of its content in the blogger community.

Now the news media industry feels a change brought by mass-intermediation but it is not sure how it will affect their businesses. Are blogs an online power that swarms on certain issues or stories? How should they harness the power of this online mob? I suspect that will be a very entertaining storm in a latte mug as people compare it to the punk or garage ethic, weave pointless business models around it, endlessly analyse it and compare it to fashionable theories like prosumption, social networks and communities.

There is a report from Morgan Stanley equity analyst Mary Meeker discussing the rise of blogging and how she thinks Yahoo! stands to benefit from incorporating RSS feeds from blogs into their My Yahoo! personal portal page, however that doesn’t mean that it can’t be easily copied by others such as MSN. Another interesting related article is at the Online Journalism Review by Mark Glaser called ‘Open Season: News Sites Add Outside Links, Free Content’.

Webcast Gems

I recently had a look at a webcast panel filmed at the University of Berkeley, California to do with the use and abuse of science by the presidential administration of George Bush Jr. In addition to this presentation they also have some great webcasts on poetry, free speech (Berkeley had a huge role in the beatnik and hippie generations). Real player required. Berkeley’s academic rival Stanford has some interesting webcasts analysing how science and technology and will be affected by a Kerry administration or a second term for the Bush administration.

Good Design


When I got my copy of Real Business magazine there was a cleverly designed piece of collateral that caught my eye promoting London Innovation. Based on the theme of gaining a competitive edge, the design motif boasted the top half of ‘Competitive edge’ on the edge of the paper, causing you to open it up to see the rest of the writing. Inside there is copy in a landscape presented fold out booklet. The bottom flap folded into the booklet was labeled ‘The bottom line’. The leaflet itself was a one colour print run in maroon and the money has gone into the staples and folds.

Brand Aid

The relationships between U2 and the technology sector has got progressively more tangled. Hoteliers and rock rock group U2 has seen a number tech developments. In mid June, lead singer Bono took a break from lecturing the world’s politicians to become a managing partner in a new entertainment and media investment fund based out of Silicon Valley called Elevation Partners. Other managing partners include former Apple CFO Fred Anderson, Robert McNamee a Silicon Valley marketing guru and some executive from Electronic Arts. Next you have the limited edition iPod putting them in the Apple camp (which reminded me of the Claudia Schiffer Palm Vx) and then you have their new tour sponsored by Intel? Go figure. I am not too sure how this will affect the U2 brand image and how it will benefit their partners? I recall the slating the Rolling Stones got from their fans for hanging with with Bill Gates and helping launch Windows ’95 to the tune of ‘Start me up’.