Study: Decentralized organizations will win, especially in challenging times

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For decades management theorists have argued over whether and when organizations should be centralized or decentralized.

However the situation is now dramatically different than it was before, as we become richly connected and the world we live in becomes increasingly complex and interdependent.

A new paper reviewed by Stanford Graduate School of Business examines the relative success of firms through the recent global “Great Recession”, depending on their degree of centralization.

The authors, Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University, Philippe Aghion of Harvard University, Raffaella Sadun from Harvard Business School, and John Van Reenen from London School of Economics, reportedly found that:
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The focus of big data should be creating value FOR customers

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Big Data is one of the hottest trends at the moment, as shown in this Google Trends chart below.

However much of the big data discussion is about how to market better to customers, gathering data ABOUT them so companies can sell more to them.

This seems to me to be the wrong way to think about it. Big data should be used to CREATE VALUE FOR CUSTOMERS. From that good things will flow to everyone, including of course attracting the most customers.
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Agencies must adapt to a marketing world based on open systems

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John Winsor, CEO of crowdsourcing-based advertising agency Victors & Spoils and Chief Innovation Officer at global marketing conglomerate Havas, has long been an innovator and provocateur in agency world.

He gave the keynote at the Future of Crowdsourcing Summit I ran in San Francisco and Sydney in 2010, and his agency was featured as a case study of crowd business models in my book Getting Results From Crowds.

John has just published an excellent article on HBR Blogs titled The Future of Marketing, as Seen at Cannes Lions.
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Will the Respect Network enable us to take back control of our data and our lives?

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Yesterday I attended the Sydney launch event of the Respect Network, an initiative designed to allow individuals to own and take control of their data.

They played this video, narrated by John Hurt, who starred in the film 1984. Apparently American audiences have thought this clip to be highly controversial, however it seems to provide a reasonable view of how things are.

Take Back Control from Respect Network on Vimeo.

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Professional services relationships as the primary portal to value creation

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A week ago I gave a keynote to a relatively small but rapidly growing professional services firm on the occasion of their 10th birthday celebration, to help them think about their next decade of business.

My presentation began with macro trends, then drilled into shifts in the professional services landscape, and finally onto the leadership required to create the future of professional services.

The theme that the group picked up on the most which drove our ensuing conversation was how they could tap external experts to generate value for clients.
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Our reputation, personal opportunities, and identity will be shaped by social media

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This morning was the launch of the Safeguarding the Future of Digital Australia 2025 that I wrote and compiled for McAfee, part of Intel Security.

There has been a very strong response to the report, with so far good articles in The Australian, Dynamic Business, WA Today, and many others, and the Federal Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull saying “Intel Security’s report makes a major contribution to our understanding of how to safeguard Australians online and into the future.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Communications Paul Fletcher spoke at the report’s launch at Parliament House, drawing particular attention to the tagline we created for the Future of Social section:
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Trend: offshore service centers driving innovation and revenue

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Last week I gave a keynote on Mega Change: Tomorrow is Here at the NASSCOM Global In-House Center Conclave at Pune in India.

Global In-House Centers (GIC) describes offshore service and processing centers that are run and owned by the parent company. While business process and IT services have long been outsourced to offshore service providers, as many firms have chosen to establish their own centers, not least to maintain full control of operations and standards.

It was a fascinating event, bringing together the leaders in the space. GICs in India generate $15.5 billion in revenue and employ over half a million people.

Often GICs provide not low-level processing functions but highly sophisticated functions. Some of the world’s largest multi-nationals locate the global cream of their technologists and data scientists in India.

The next phase is for GICs to go beyond cost arbitrage on support to drive innovation and higher-value functions, as shown in this diagram from a recent NASSCOM report on GICs in India.

GICgoals
Source: NASSCOM/ Deloitte
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Why your networks and collaboration are at the heart of the value you create

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I was recently interviewed for an extended article Networked Business: The wealth in your connections written by Nick Saalfeld for the Microsoft Talking Business series.

Here are some excerpts from the article, which provide a neat summary of some of my thinking on the space.

It’s a fallacy to think of networking as a sales tool. Firstly, it’s not. Secondly, it might instead be one of the defining sources of value in your business. Business strategist Ross Dawson, author of the (free and highly comprehensible) Future of Work Framework explains how.
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How technology is enabling the humanity of organizations

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After my recent opening keynote at the SAP Australia User Group Summit on Leadership in Enterprise Technology, I did a video interview for Inside SAP magazine, shown below.

The full transcript of the interview is available on our new publication CIO of the Future.
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The immense social media opportunity for real estate

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The Weekend Australian last Saturday had an interesting article titled Facebook shakes up house hunt (subscription may be required).

It described how a couple had bought their dream home after finding it on the Facebook page of a real estate agent. They arranged to inspect it immediately after it appeared on the page and bought it the next day, before the for-sale sign had been put up in the yard.

The journalist writing the article called me for some comments and included this at the end of the piece:

Social-media expert Ross Dawson said Facebook had enormous potential, but many real estate agent’s efforts were “terrible”. “They just don’t understand it. It’s a completely different mentality. They just want to sell,” Mr Dawson said.

This is true, but I think what was more interesting was the rest of what I said to the journalist, which wasn’t quoted in the article.
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