Business in a Virtual World: Exploiting Information for Competitive Advantage

Business in a Virtual World: Exploiting Information for Competitive Advantage

Business in a Virtual World: Exploiting Information for Competitive Advantage

Business in a Virtual World: Exploiting Information for Competitive Advantage

Synopsis

Written for those involved in business, this book looks at the impact of the information revolution and shows how companies can exploit information for competitive advantage. A practical guide which also includes case studies of various organisations.

Excerpt

Every business consists of two types of element: the physical and the virtual. The physical elements are items such as buildings, machinery and people; the virtual elements are items such as information about customers, knowledge about how to get the best from a manufacturing process and the rights to exploit a particular invention.

The information revolution provides organisations with an unparalleled opportunity to move elements of their business from the physical domain to the virtual domain. No longer does the development of new products have to be done on paper, no longer do you have to sell to your customers within shops, no longer do you have to keep large stocks of every item that you sell. Almost every element of a business can be converted from the physical into information that is stored and manipulated within a computer.

Once that transition is made, new laws of economics take over. Information can be manipulated in ways that would be impossible with a physical object, information can be transmitted around the world at phenomenal speed, information can be duplicated and sold many times over without incurring additional costs. These attributes of information mean that organisations that embrace the virtual world can play to a different set of rules, rules that are often stacked heavily in their favour.

Yet despite the enormity of the potential changes, our management methods are still firmly rooted in the physical. We can, for example, measure, account for and depreciate physical assets, yet there is no agreed method for accounting for the information we maintain on our customers, or indeed any other information, assets that in many organisations far exceed the value of the physical goods they sell.

The work that we do with organisations has made us realise that all businesses are undergoing, or about to undergo, a fundamental revolution, a revolution so enormous that it dwarfs any changes since the Industrial Revolution took place in the 19th century. Businesses will increasingly move their assets and processes from the physical . . .

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