Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Has the Web Removed the Value You Get Paid For?

Here is more thinking from Clay Shirley's book Here Comes Everybody.

The web removes barriers which created transaction costs in accomplishing many different tasks. When these transaction costs go away, business models that generate their value by overcoming these costs no longer have value.

For newspapers, the barriers were owning a printing press, hiring and managing writers, controlling the distribution and selling the ads. The web allows anyone, anywhere, to do these things at little or no cost. Newspapers are struggling because one of the main sources of their value has gone away.

This ability of ours to change our actions as barriers are removed is not limited to just the web. I think it is important to realize this. This is a fundamental fact of human nature. 

Here are some barriers other technologies have removed and how we have responded to their removal.

After we had trains and cars and airplanes most folks who wanted to "Go West" quit walking from coast to coast and adopted a newer method of transportation.

When most people had telephones my Grandmother stopped walking the three blocks to her sister's house to ask a single question and just called her on the phone. In my generation we never even experienced the visit to avoid a phone call.

When my kids could text message me and avoid my asking them questions or making them stay on the phone, they quit calling. (The ungrateful rats.)

For your job or business, what barriers does the web remove that have historically been a value you added?

1 - Time restrictions. The web can let you provide information and services 24/7. You can not be physically present 24/7 but you can provide access to interaction your customers need to do with you 24/7 online.

2 - Distance barriers. The phone did this, but it charged for long distance. The web not only does not charge for long distance, it allows more types of communication than just voice on the phone.

3 - The ability to get forms or documentation - even signed documentation. The web allows you to provide rights based access to almost anything you currently make folks come to your office, wait for a fax or, wait for the mail to receive.

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