There's a recently released book called, Here Comes Everybody (The Penguin Press), by Clay Shirkey that I am loving. In fact, I am having a hard time remembering the last time I took this long to read a book. I am enjoying it so much, that I simply don't want it to end. I'm savouring it like a fine wine
Just now, I was reading a small segment and I thought I would share it with you:
"When reproduction, distribution and categorization were all difficult, as they were for the last five hundred years, we needed professionals to undertake those jobs, and we properly venerated those people for the service they performed. Now those tasks are simpler, and the earlier roles have in many cases become optional, and are sometimes obstacles to direct access, often putting the providers of the older service at odds with their erstwhile patrons. An amusing example occurred in 2005, when a French bus company, Transports Schiocchet Excursions (TSE), sued several French cleaning women who had previously used TSE for transport to their jobs in Luxembourg. The women's crime? Carpooling. TSE asked that the women be fined and that their cars be confiscated, on the grounds that the service the women had arraigned to provide themselves - transportation - should be provided only by commercial services such as TES. (The case was thrown out in a lower court; it is pending on appeal).
Though this incident seems like an unusual laps in business judgement, this strategy - suing former customers for organizing themselves - is precisely the one being pursued by the music and movie industries today. Those industries used to perform a service by distributing music and moving images, but laypeople can now move music and video easily, in myriad ways that are both cheaper and more flexible than those mastered and owned by existing commercial firms, like selling CDs and DVDs in stores. Faced with these radical new efficiencies, those very firms are working to make moving movies and music harder, in order to stay in business - precisely the outcome that the bus company was arguing for."
Marketers need to start thinking about how we do business and how, in a world where reproduction, distribution and categorization is becoming ubiquitous, where we're going to add value and differentiate. Our recent battle-cry that "the consumer is in control" as User Generated Content started taking hold is no better - and just as unrealistic - as the TSE (and the music industry) suing their former consumers.