Digital Capital

Harnessing the Power of Business Webs

When Transmeta unveiled its remarkable new microprocessors earlier this year, the company's founder, David Ditzel, told the media: "The Internet changes everything. In the future you will no more want to leave your home without your Internet connection than you do without your cell phone today."
The Transmeta chips are designed from scratch to facilitate wireless Internet access from Web appliances and ultra-light laptops. Scores of other corporations are scrambling to come up with similar devices.
In Japan, the revolutionary "i-mode" mobile phone is soaring in popularity. These svelte phones are constantly connected to the Internet. You don't have to 'logon' to the Web as you do in North America. The display screen is the size of a business card. More than 350 companies have built a vast array of Web sites for the gadget. Users can receive email, chat, buy and sell securities, download video and music, swap photos, read train schedules, look up their horoscopes, check movie listings, and on and on. The Japanese are hooked.
This constant connectivity to the Net will profoundly effect how we go about our lives. At the early stages we will download straightforward content like music, newspaper clipping and ebooks.
Soon wireless devices that pinpoint your location will be able to answer any questions on services and amenities in the neighbourhood. As you drive through a neighbourhood that you would like to move to, you will be alerted to any houses for sale with the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Naturally the device will tell you how to get to each house.
These gadgets will be our constant companions and co-pilots as we go about our work and play. Their ability to extract useful information from the blizzard of digital data will be key. We will insist these devices intimately understand our needs and wants.
As we explore in Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs, corporations are reinventing their business models around the ubiquitous, deep, rich and increasingly functional Internet. Large and diverse sets of people scattered around the world can now, easily and cheaply, gain near real-time access to the information they need to make safe decisions and coordinate complex activities.
Different companies can add knowledge value to a product or service — through innovation, enhancement, cost reduction, or customization — at each step in its lifecycle. Often, specialists do a better value-adding job than vertically integrated firms. In the digital economy, the notion of a separate, electronically negotiated deal at each step of the value cycle becomes a reasonable, often compelling, proposition.
Successful corporations are now distinguished by their ability to identify and accumulate digital capital. They use the Net to blend their intellectual acumen with other companies and leverage the combined insight. They use the Web to develop much deeper relationships with their customers. And they jettison the business models of the industrial age to reinvent their corporations for success in the digital economy.
To repeat: The Internet changes everything. Digital Capital shows how.
Harvard Business School Press; First Printing edition (1 Jun 2000)

Author photo
Don Tapscott
Book cover picture
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