Opening Day for Open-First

January 1, 2010
tags: open enterprise
by Ted Shelton

The beginning of a new year brings a new start for a group of us from social media consultancy The Conversation Group. Over the past three years as our business has grown and changed we have learned an enormous amount about the revolution underway in our business environment. One important lesson - social is just one part of the transition we are currently seeing in markets today.

Our journey has taken us through a wide variety of large and small companies, B2B and B2C, and many different industries from consumer electronics to software and from telecommunications to construction equipment. By studying the changes underway across such a broad section of business we have been able to detect a deeper underlying theme — a new model for the way business is being organized in the twentieth century.

One of the deep thinkers on this subject is Harvard professor and Berkman center co-director Yochai Benkler whose 2006 book The Wealth of Networks provides the kind of groundbreaking thought on the future of markets that Adam Smith offered to his generation in 1776 with the publication of Wealth of Nations.

In his book, Benkler explores how over the past ten years the business of software development has been transformed by something called “open source.” And how the very basis of our market economy is being changed by a shift from competition to collaboration in the production of goods, in particular where a high percentage of the content of those goods comes from information.

The “knowledge economy” instantiated through digital communications, sophisticated collaboration platforms and fed by an increasingly rich set of data and analytical tools will transform every market, far beyond what we have seen so far in software development. We take the name of our new business from the lessons we have learned from open source — that businesses must re-examine every part of their companies and explore how a set of new practices must emerge which are open at their core. Open innovation, open research, open communications, open management, open support…

Our team of experienced business people is growing around the globe and currently work from Palo Alto, San Francisco, New York, London, Cologne and Helsinki. We are engaged directly with the senior management of some of the world’s greatest companies, helping them to understand how these new open business processes will transform the way they create new products, bring them to market, and support their customers in using them. Along the way we also help companies reinvent the way they engage employees, partners, and their customers to create value throughout their marketplaces.

Over the next few years we believe that the companies who will outperform their peers in every industry will be those that embrace these ideas and build the open enterprise.

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