Thriving in the Spacious Foothills
There are three kinds of companies: companies that try to lead customers where they don’t want to go (these find the idea of being customer-led an insight); companies that listen to customers and then respond to their articulated needs (needs that are probably already being satisfied by more foresightful competitors); and companies that lead customers where they want to go but don’t know it yet. Companies that create the future do more than satisfy customers; they constantly amaze them.
—GARY HAMEL AND COIMBATORE KRISHNARAO PRAHALAD
So, who’s going to pay for all of this? It is instructive to compare the situation with that of who paid for the Internet. Economically, the Internet evolved in three distinct stages: Stage 1 was an invitation-only party, with the U.S. government picking up the tab. It was a fun time, while it lasted. Stage 2—the age of irrational exuberance—was paid for by investors who counted themselves among the smart money gang. They knew that fortunes were going to be made, and they weren’t about to miss the boat. It wasn’t exactly clear how the fortunes would be made, but it would sort itself out. It did sort itself out, but the process was a bit painful. Stage 3—after the bubble—was just business—the long mundane process of separating the wheat from the chaff with respect to the monetization of all those clever ideas.
Will the climb up Trillions Mountain exhibit this same pattern? Well, Stage 1, at least, is different. ...