Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Connecting everywhere and all the time, and its impact on structure in markets and organizations – 8: organization in an everywhere all the time connected context – 1

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on October 13, 2011

Many if not most of the postings I write to this blog fit smoothly into series, and focus on specific pieces of larger puzzles. This posting follows that basic pattern, though in this case the larger puzzle – the specific topic area that I seek to address with the series as a whole is more complex than usual. And it is more of a work in progress than most too. This is my eighth installment in a series on organizational structure and effectiveness, and in the course of that I have delved into some of the issues that come up in change management (see Business Strategy and Operations, postings 187, 189, 190, 193, 197 and 200 and Business Strategy and Operations – 2 for posting 203 for parts 1-7.)

With this posting I turn to what may be the principle overall goal of this series as a whole that preceding installments have led up to – putting this entire ongoing discussion into the context of ubiquitous computing and communications and discussing how our rapidly evolving connectivity and information sharing context is changing change management and the nature of effective organization. And as I often do I begin this with the fundamentals.

• Organizational effectiveness is all about market share and marketplace strength, and a structurally, functionally effective business or other organization has to be designed and run to maintain and improve upon them both.

This is obviously true for for-profit businesses as they seek to capture market share and customer loyalty for products and services that they provide. But it is just as true for nonprofits where they derive their revenue from the discretionary income that members of their community would donate – and where they compete with every other nonprofit for the dollars they receive.

• This means effective organizational structure and function are in large part externally driven – not by the wishes, preferences and needs of the owners and employees, at least not ultimately, but rather by those of their customers and potential customers and by the forces of their marketplace.

And ubiquitous computing is rapidly driving a series of fundamental changes in both the perceived needs and expectations of customers as individuals, and in the marketplace as a whole.

• Community and marketplace are being decoupled from geography so the fundamental nature of the marketplace is changing.

You cannot expect to see the same range of shared priorities or experiences held in common by these more geographically and even culturally diffused and diverse audiences, that you would have justifiably expected in a geographically locally defined marketplace pre internet or pre-web 2.0. This means people in the market for some product or service X may hold little if anything else in common than the fact that they wish to acquire or participate in X. Before the developing shift in marketplace demographics that ubiquitous computing and communications are causing, you could build a rich set of valid expectations as to the needs, interests, priorities and concerns of a given marketplace and its members that would go way beyond their interest in or need for X per se.

• An organization that fails to understand this and adapt to it is going to become progressively more marginalized, as discussed in Parts 4-7 of this series, and particularly Part 6 and Part 7.

And such an organization is in long term danger of meeting the same fate as the Tergus Corporation of Part 6, from progressive loss and marginalization of customer base and market share – from long-term consistent failure to know its true marketplace or what drives consumers to buy in it. In my Tergus Corporation example, a failure to know and to act upon this understanding led a once effective and profitable business to progressively, consistently price itself out of its market. The precise details as to how Tergus did this may be its own but bottom line, however you marginalize your business the end result is the same if you take that general path.

I am going to continue this discussion in my next series installment where I will look more explicitly at operations and the organizational structures that sustain them, once again with a focus on the impact of ubiquitous computing and communications on that.

You can find this and related postings in Business Strategy and Operations and its continuation page, and also in Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time.

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