Are some companies too big to fail? That's been a hot question in recent years. But when talking about the revolution in real time, you need to turn this question around: Are some companies too big to succeed? With epochal changes underway, are the largest enterprises, like dinosaurs, too unwieldy to evolve? It's a scary question that needs to be asked.
In Chapter 4 I discussed how real-time communications comes naturally to individuals and small teams. But in a large beast is it possible for new information to travel fast enough from tail to skull and back again? Will the response be inevitably robotic? Is there any evidence that the majors are indeed evolving? After these questions sparked heated discussion among my friends I thought I'd better do some quick diagnostics. But how could I do that?
After mulling this over, it occurred to me that the top 100 U.S. companies was as good a focus group as any. So I used the Fortune 500, the annual list from Fortune magazine that ranks by gross revenue America's top 500 public corporations. Happily, the latest list was issued on May 3, 2010, as I was finishing up the manuscript for this book.
I sent an inquiry via email to the media relations department of each of the top 100 companies on the list. I asked each company to tell me how it had adapted to the new realities of the real-time Web. Here's what I asked:
I would be grateful if you would please forward this inquiry on to the most appropriate person ...