The Networked Enterprise
In his recent book, The Networked Enterprise, Ken Thompson outlines how through taking advantage of Virtual Enterprise Networks, small enterprises can win and retain big customers…
"Imagine you have a magical Electron microscope which lets you see anything you like not in the physical world but in the economic world. You crank the magnification right up to maximum so you can see the very smallest atoms of economic activity. What do you find? You find me – the owner/manager of an ambitious knowledge-based small business.
Text me a question “What is your biggest strategic challenge?” It takes a minute because I really have to think about it and get my head out of the tyranny of operational urgencies and into the strategic space I so rarely inhabit. Eventually your cell phone beeps with my response “According to the A-list strategy gurus such as Harvard’s Michael Porter my biggest challenge is gaining access to major enterprise customers who will stretch and improve me and my product or service. And you know what Porter is absolutely right”
I am a small fish – there are a lot of others just like me. For example, in the EU, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs or small fish) comprise approximately 99% of all firms and employ among them about 65 million people.
Now jump from the bottom of the economy way up to the top of the major supply chains. You meet me – the CEO of a Fortune 100 global enterprise. I am a Big Fish. Ping me the same question on my secure corporate Instant Messenger “What is your biggest strategic challenge?” This time the response comes back instantly “That’s easy – its keeping my products and services ahead of the competition and avoiding the “Silver Bullet with a my name written on it” of unexpected competitive knock-out from left field that Andy Grove, author of “Only the Paranoid Survive”, warns about”.
Now fine tune the microscopes “multi-dimensional resolution” to move away from the micro to the macro. What do you see? You meet me – an Economic Development director in a major regional economy. I am a FISH FARMER – I try to create ecosystems where fish (Big and small) can thrive. Ask me the same question – “What is your biggest strategic challenge?” This time you have to use email as that’s the currency of the organization I work for. Ten minutes passes, you grab a coffee and then you hear the familiar sound of a “you have email” notification and you read “The biggest challenge for us is developing our regional economy by joining the dots between the small indigenous local companies and global enterprises. The era of a big player locating here and bringing 10,000 jobs has gone – we must find a way to create these jobs through our local companies competing and winning in the global market with global customers”
The amazing three-way “Win-Win-Win” Opportunity is this: the small fish, Big Fish and Fish Farmers all want the same thing – they just don’t know how to make it happen!
Sounds paradoxical? Not really."
[read the rest of Ken’s summary in the comments field below]