From mass communication to communicaton between the masses.

The paradigm shift from mass communication to communication between the masses is just at its beginning. We have seen some examples of how to make this a profitable business, but I believe that we only have seen the top of an ice berg.

There are so many implications to this that you will find whole book stores trying to cover the subject. The shift within the Internet industry has gone from sending out information, like documents presented as HTML text, toward broader one way communications, like commercials, PR, campaigns and so forth, further on to enabling the options for giving feedback, comments, newsgroups, dating services, chat, web conferencing etc. etc. It’s a wide field with a lot of phenomena working in parallel.

There is confusion, and there is chaos. But as the Zen Buddhists’ say: From chaos comes order. In a business perspective companies have struggled to find business models that fit the demands to interact via the web and via other channels as well. This is now changing rapidly. I think it can be interesting to divide the two way communication area into three main arena; Consumer power solutions, Democracy increasing possibilities and Social networks.

The reason for me not to define this as interactivity is that there is a difference between two way communication and interactivity, (not all two way communication is interactive) which can lead to even more confusion, so let’s stick to the broader definition; two way communication.

Consumer power or it could also be defined as commercial exploration of individuals on the market. This is two sides of the coin. Is all about how the customer want to deal with the seller, how to get products and services easier, faster and cheaper. For the seller, its all about how to get enough knowledge about the customer to streamline the sales process, and enable a larger sale, added sales opportunities, build loyalty. Cross sales, cross channels, mixed business models can be implemented with a great result for both customer, and provider. One the one hand the customer can get more “power” – and so it is also for the provider. Interactive options, in voting, polling, response options, chat, customer web conferencing as support etc. is putting two way communication into real life on the web, TV, mobile phone and in the car. The collection of customer base, the knowledge and behavior patterns all create fundamentally increased possibilities for increased profit.

Democracy increasing possibilities is all about enable us all in stating our opinions on the one hand, and gathers groups that provide and produce content on the other hand. As we see it can be used for non-profit purposes, but also commercially. Blogs, discussion boards, magazines where everyone can publish, net meetings, adding comments of articles are examples of how to work with this kind of two way communication. For individuals this is great opportunities to participate in the public discourse in, or to get tailor made service from the commercial arena.

Social networks meet a fundamental human wish/need – to belong to a group. Via the Internet (or cell phone or other channels for that matter, social networks has a direct appeal for everyone that can find some sort of group they can identify and belong to. For the participants there are a lot of benefits and “things to do” either private “entertainment” or as a professional network building outcome. The value and possibilities at hand when you have such a group, or have made a system where those kinds of “groupings” can happen in a large scale, there are many business models that work. Adds is one, selling services is another, selling behavior patterns of your member base are a third, and there are a lot of options combining models.

What’s happening at the moment is that these ideas and concepts are refined, and gets more advanced as the months goes by. The business models as well as the services provided. There is a lot of creativity, and the best part is that a lot of it is driven by the participants, so there is an effect of a collective product development rarely seen before. The most interesting part of what is happening at the moment is when ideas gets mixed and new concepts arrive. Some of the mix is within the areas I have written about in this posting, and the former post “ About transparency”, even more interesting is the mixes that have started to arise, with other concepts, established long ago for other purposes, that’s when two plus two becomes more than five.

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