Geri Stengel

 
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Tech Knowledge Will Expand Markets, Services of Entrepreneurs and Nonprofits

This is one of three blogs about the future of tech-enabled business models. Check out Break Down Walls to Build Creativity With New Technology and Tagged Products, Smartphones Offer New Business and Fundraising Possibilities to read what else is in store.

Think back to the technology that has come and gone in a few decades: VCRs, diskettes, cassettes, Walkman CD players, CDs for that matter, phones that only transmitted voices ... well, you get the drift.

You can't do much with that cassette player anymore and you can't do much at work – nonprofit or for-profit -- without voice mail, computerized financial statements, email, and spreadsheets.

cocreation, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, technologySoon, you won't be able to get much done without the cloud, cocreation, and a host of other new-tech options.

The McKinsey Quarterly has issued a must-read report on 10 tech trends that we'd all better get used to. Why? Because they are going to change the way we do business, solve problems, and interact with our clients and employees.

If for no other reason, read the report so you get the gist of "cloud-computing," "cocreation," "big data," and other terms you'll be hearing often. Once you open the door just a crack to these ideas, you'll realize the potential they have for entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders. What's more, the report includes recommended reading to learn more about each of the 10 trends.

The first three items on the McKinsey list are: cocreation, making the network the organization, and collaboration at scale.

All three have to do with throwing out the hierarchical organization chart and breaking down walls between stakeholders. Let's start with cocreation.

Cocreation
Remember when Wikipedia was mind-blowing? It's now run-of-the-mill. "Distributed cocreation" means that value is created by networks outside the business.

You are probably part of that process already, although you may not realize it. Have you ever read or written reviews of a book or product on Amazon? Used social media to recommend or criticize a product? Used the "community forum" on TurboTax to solve a problem when doing your taxes?

That's all cocreation.

It's like talking a problem with a friend. You suddenly figure out the answer even though the friend may not have made any great suggestions. It was the process of talking things over -- thinking aloud -- that brought forth the solution.

Geolocation
Knowing where customers are and having customers know where their friends are plays a big part in using cocreation.

  • Small businesses can use applications such as Foursquare to attract customers, both new and repeat, through mobile phone-based recommendations.
  • Parents with young children are particularly prone to responding to email and smartphone sales, according to Advertising Age.
  • Facebook just announced its Places feature, which is another venue for telling your friends where you are and what you like, and "Come on over and join me."
  • Feelgoodz uses sustainable practices, fair wages, and donations to nonprofits to earn its "socially responsible" title. Due to the oil spill in the gulf, it was faced with being unable to pay off a loan. When the word got out on the web, individuals as well as other businesses joined forces to save the company. 

With cocreation, you are going outside the organization for ideas and feedback ... and help. The organization chart starts looking like spaghetti when you add in Facebook friends, bloggers, and online reviewers. But your marketplace is vastly expanded and the feedback allows you to be more responsive and flexible.

What has been your experience with cocreation?