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From Networked Business to radical service

Recently I'm getting more into IT management, thanks to the mentoring of the professors at MOSI (E. Torfs and E. Vandijck). During reading in the book "Corporate Information Strategy and Management" I came across the concept and examples of B2B, what stands for "Business to Business". The concept C2C (customers), like ebay was of course known to me. The B2B example was Covisint. Using the web for B2C may be the most strait forward e-commerce example. What I'm most interesting in to talk about, in this blog is C2B for innovation. Let me take my last experience, I'll give some more explanation afterwards.

A few days ago I was trying out to use the apple wifi to root my music to the living room. The whole idea was to get away from the old radio. The experiment didn't work all that well, remotely switching itunes was a problem. So I thought it would be nice to have a wifi-interface for it. As I was in the badroom a bit later I remembered my old radio's that could be used in the shower. Now I was thinking it would be nice to have a similar radio working on wifi. So I had two applications for a similar technology and I was willing to pay for such a tool. What really would be great, is that I actually could order it, without it existing yet ! How hard would it be to have an organization be able to answer such request? How hard would it be to have millions of such questions and being able to build on small scale, with high quality, in reasonably time? Well call me crazy, but I'm actually convinced that it could be possible.

I would like to call the previous example a demand for radical service and in the past 8 years several experiments have convinced me that we can make a working business model for radical service. The first examples goes back to the experiments at Starlab nv. Walter Van de Velde had illustrate me several examples. Like a mobile phone ringing during a meeting, with a simple response: "Can't we make the phone aware it is in a meeting?" It resulted into a project. Another example was "Today's story" as to answer the question: How was the day for very young children? The problem is that very young children do not yet grasp the question "how is your day?". The project had significant spillover, making the project more interesting later on.

These projects in Starlab nv where however quite intensive, running over several years with a large research budget as such it only gives some insight on the possibility to make a project around common problems. During my Convivio summer school I've seen examples of more pragmatic applications to "user centered designs", going from idea to prototype in a week ! During more recent experience on web services and applications I've seen other, almost instant ways of organizing innovation and development. Like during the Drupalcon in Brussels and during the barcamps, people did actually deliver there and than. Of course it is not possible with everything, but I'm convinced many user needs are possible.

Now back to the book I'm reading, it had an interesting design on a corporation body, they called it the blueprint of a big-small business. It put the innovation in the operation layer, so not as an issue for management or top-management. Isn't that interesting, exactly what I had in mind for radical service, it should be part of the operational aspect of a company. Still I think quite some work is still needed, to get such agility in the business. I'm however convinced that it requires an innovation in the management, and some IT development, but the technology to build it is existing, at least so I belief. I'll hope to make it more concrete in the coming years, I want that radio !