So this will be the first book review I do, partly to help me retain the information and contents of the book, but also to keep me honest and up to schedule on my book list. So here it goes, my review of Jeff Jarvis’s What Would Google Do.
In my humble opinion the core thesis of this book is twofold. Firstly, the unification and assistance of communities across product lines and segments is one of the biggest trends in business and life right now. Due to the adoption and adaption of technology, communities that used to be fragmented and disjointed are now being amalgamated. Assisting this amalgamation process and becoming a platform for a community is the endgame for a successful business line. The second point works around the introduction of transparency to those communities. As communities centralize and communicate, is it easier to gather, share, and analyze data. This is causing a profound shift in what used to be ‘black box markets’ (see my last post on disintermediation in the debt markets) and leading to new takes on what were status quo areas of business.
So how do you create a community? The first rule: you can’t. Communities are already interacting, growing, and sharing information. However, what you can do is provide an improved and ‘elegant’ platform for them to communicate on. This will make you communication medium for that community.
The old art of making money through control of production, distribution and marketing is a dying craft – the new money to be made is through the analysis, control, and insight of abundance, and through the analysis of the abundance of niches.
The new question companies need to be asking themselves now is what business are we really in? Are we a knowledge company, a data company, a community company, a platform or a network? Where is our value? Value and revenue are not always the same. While providing value, revenue sometimes comes from another place.
Another key point is one that is lost amoung many typical conservative companies, always be listening. Companies have lost control of timing, as we can no longer decide when the story gets out, only how to react to it once and when it does (which is usually earlier than anticipated). Just because you aren’t listening doesn’t mean they aren’t talking.
When approaching innovation, always start in a logical pattern. Find the problem, then create the solution. Beware the cool idea.
When seeking to educate an audience, always make content easily shareable, postable and ‘passable’. Instead of posting a 30 minute video segment, cut it into pieces to make it more share-friendly. Instead of a long article, get the crux of the point across in one paragraph. Make sure that content is catered to the environment it is entering – an environment of sharing.
The five lessons of Google are also worth a reminder. Firstly, focus on talent. Google has talent running the place instead of tenure. Secondly, newness is key. In a service business, you take the form of the clients you work for – want a new product, get new clients, and serve them better than anyone else. Thirdly, data is essential to understand your clients and product. Google provides advertisers with more data about their success, effectiveness, cost and readership than has ever been possible. Fourth, make money through the side door. Google (and Apple) give a key part of their business away for free, then make money through the side door. Fifth, focus on the user and all else will follow. In the words of Google execs, the fixation should not be on the clients, but on the people the clients want to engage, sell, and interact with. The product should be champions for those people. As always, the worst customer is your best friend.
Overall, What Would Google Do is a lesson on transparency, and the power of a platform in better serving an audience. In order to do those two things, you must understand what your business really is, and what it will be moving forward. Do not seek to limit the flow of information, rather act as a platform to distribute information, and monetize through a side door.
While this first review was more of a summary than a review, I guess that may be more useful to you, but it is definitely more useful to me.