The renowned corporate strategist and co-author of Competing for the Future talks about his theory of co-creation, expounded in his most recent book, The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers. Interview by Des Dearlove
Competing for the Future was first published in the mid-1990s and had a major impact on the way corporations think about strategy. How has your view of the world changed since then?
Competing for the Future was a very firm-centric view of the world. We were still focused on the firm. We were also very product and service centric. Think about what has happened since then. Competing for the Future was written before connectivity became common. Whether it is PCs or wireless, the book was pre-connectivity. Also, the business world was not as well developed in terms of convergence of technologies and industries. That process was just starting.
Today there is convergence of a wide variety of industries and technologies: between pharmaceuticals, personal care and fashion; information technology, retailing and banking; and, increasingly now, even telecoms. So the fundamental change is the convergence of technologies; today it is not at all clear what is a phone, a digital camera and a computer. It’s all rolled into one. Not only is this happening in digital industries but in food, in personal care products and in the automotive industry. This is new.
What else has changed in the intervening period?
In the last 10 years, following the Competing for the Future book, several other forces have changed the way we think and live.
One is tremendous deregulation. Consider what is happening to wireless around the world. It’s going crazy. Today there are more wireless phones than landlines. Ten years ago wireless was just a blip on the radar.
A second force is the increasing role of emerging markets. China and India are driving wireless and the development of wireless devices as much as the developed world. Actually, I would argue that poor people have driven wireless more towards success than rich people. We have fundamentally new business models, like prepaid cards, where I don’t have to own a home in order to get a telephone. I can be poor and still get access to a telephone.
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