When I started this blog six years ago I knew that I would “giving away” my thoughts for free. Some might say that’s all they’re worth. I’ve also kept the site ad free for a couple of reasons – ads don’t pay much, they get in the way of readers and I want people to focus on the conversations here or just get information they need. No ads sets me apart from many other sites, so that’s a good thing in the long run. I make my money mainly by consulting and less from speaking and writing. Externally, this blog is one big business card. Internally, it’s my knowledge base that informs my work. In addition, it’s a way to communicate with my peers.
I would surmise that ten years ago it was easier to sell a research report than it is now. There was less information available online for free. However, I think there is still a growing market for mass customization. That means a customized research report for me that’s different than one for somebody else. That’s pretty well what I sell: customized strategy & analysis for the specific context of each client. The challenge for Janet (and all of us in the custom information business) is figuring out the 90% that we should give away for free and the 10% that has market value and that we can charge for.
This posting by Harold Jarche, and the ensuing links and comments, has an interesting riff going on emerging business models and the tension between what is free and what is charged for. Worth reading and contributing to. Here's some of my thoughts;
One of the things I got from Kevin Kelly when he first wrote "New Rules for the New Economy" (still excellent reading IMHO) was that there is an inverse relationship between value and ease of copying/distributing. As with most, this is not an absolute rule but I think we are seeing this played out more and more and I find it helpful to think in of value being tied to uniqueness and that which can not be easily copied or distributed.
Along these lines, the notion of "mass customization" resonates strongly with me as it is the root of my incessant championing, along with my great friend and colleague Erik Duval, of mass personalization and The Snowflake Effect. However the other distinction which I find helpful is to see the transformation, metaphorically speaking, of the movement of value from nouns to verbs, or conceptually at least, from product like to more service like.
Information is a noun/product when it is in the form of a report or document created on spec or in advance of a specific use or client. Whereas it is a verb/service when it is a collection of "just the right" information matched to a specific person/group and context. I would posit that information in and of itself has little to no value. The value of information comes when it is Snowflaked or "just right" as in just the right information for just the right person(s) at just the right time in just the right context on just the right medium/device, etc.
The key term in here is context. IMHO we will continue to see context, contextual computing and contextual technology play an increasingly critical role as the value of the Snowflake Effect of getting it "just right" becomes more and more the focus of our economy and life.