Brain Juice. Now That’s A Competitive Advantage!
“20 to 25% of the queries we see today, we have never seen before”. Udi Manber Google’s VP of Engineering at the Supernova conference last year. When you think about it, it’s quite a statistic. Despite the fact that we search randomly using short phrases each unique in some way. One thing is clear, that the amount of information that is being created every moment, every day, is staggering.
While there are no accurate figures that tell us how big the internet is, (here is a paper from 2000 which is too old to be useful ) one thing everyone will agree. If you care to search, you can find just about anything you want to find on the world wide web. From how to build a nuclear reactor at home to beneficial bowel bacteria.
Wired Magazine quotes a study from Basex Inc. That information overload is going to be one of the key problems of 2008. “It’s too much information. It’s too many interruptions. It’s too much lost time,” Basex chief analyst, Jonathan Spira, declared. “It’s always too much of a good thing.”
Sure there’s too much of stuff out there. Emails, blogs, zines, newsletters, videos, podcasts, how tos, forums, newspapers, movies, music… But where would we be with all of them? One of, if not the key reason for human progress has been attributed to our ability to create, preserve and pass on knowledge. Everything we have been able to invent today has been made possible by our ability to combine different kinds of knowledge. And if there is a problem with this hyper creative phase that we are in today, is that there is little that we can do about it except perhaps get into a discussion, like this one, and create more knowledge.
But aren’t we supposed to be in the midst of a knowledge revolution? One where an empowered workforce, working with knowledge is able to create wealth and value like never before?
According to the Wikipedia, the knowledge economy differs from the traditional economy in several key respects. The economics is not of scarcity, but rather of abundance. Unlike most resources that deplete when used, information and knowledge can be shared, and actually grow through application. Knowledge enhanced products can command premiums over comparable products with low embedded knowledge.
From a marketer’s perspective, being a part of the knowledge business gives them the ability to listen and understand what people are talking about in real time. Having a pulse on the buzz to learn new things, discover trends and generally being a part of the conversation. Like when a group of passionate customers got together and started a campaign asking Cadbury to bring back Wispa, the company was able to make sense out of the conversation and relaunch the chocolate in the UK. Or when a protest broke out on Facebook and HSBC had to quickly renege on an interest rate hike to quell a PR disaster. Or the business that web trend company Big Champagne built out of the music that people share on P2P networks. Big Champagne is able to see what users are sharing and advice music labels of any sleeper hits emerging from all the noise out there.
Another interesting thing that companies could do with its knowledge workers is to create unstructured social networks among its employees and build business. On a simple level, if employee A knows person R and employee C is looking for an access to the same R, it maybe a good idea to set up simple social networks to make these connections possible. More from the Economist.
Rather than get overwhelmed by all the knowledge and information available out there, companies should start setting up simple knowledge networks that listen and learn from all the buzz that’s around them. Just like there are tools out there to create information, new and interesting tools are emerging to help companies stay in the know. Like this simple newsletter scouring the net to bring you bite sized bits of stuff, week after week.