book is all about survival strategies in re-inventing the corporate organisation adding to
the equation the maximum use of the advancement of technologies in Electronic Commerce.
The advancement centres on microelectronics, cyberspace, cybernetics and the Internet
super-highways that dramatically enhanced how an organisation communicates and
interrelates with the rest of the world. The rest of the world includes its customers, its
competitors, its partners, its suppliers, investors, and relevant information about its
environment or ecosystem in which it will survive.
The book is organised in three parts. Part I of the book defined what a
Cybercorporation is. Part II of the book defines the characteristics of a
Cybercorporation. Part III of the book tries to study its impact on people and on
As an analogy, a cybercorp as an electronic organism
with jungle creature of prey (predator) like characteristics. The corporate organism has a
clearly defined objective or prey. It has keen sensors to understand the ecosystem or the
environment it has to thrive and hunts and remains constantly alert so that it may adapt
to take advantage of changes. With its keen sensors (electronic feedbacks, data mining,
intelligence etc) it knows and continuously learns the behaviour of the prey in real time.
An important point is that we are in a time of rapid change, and the Cybercorp must be
"optimised" in order that it may take advantage of change; further, we are in an
era of instant gratification and "just-in-time everything".
Value Stream Idea
The successful hunt is an efficient interfunction or interworking of the
components that make up the jungle creature. The components (Value Streams) need not be
perfect but must be efficient in performing its task in relation to whole in the
attainment of the objective. The value stream need not be owned because it can be virtual.
Virtual means that an ally or partner can own it or it can be hired. The important thing
is that the value stream (service or the component) performs its function effectively when
required in the hunt. The partner may even be a competitor of the Cybercorp in some area.
Dominate the Ecosystem
To gain dominance and excellence in what it does, it has to study and
analyse its value streams to learn where it excels above the rest of other jungle
creatures (competitors) in its ecosystem. This strategic value stream has to be the object
or focus of enhancement and sharpening to a point of extreme excellence. This is what will
separate this predator (CYBERCORP) from the rest of the pack. If the prey is large and
difficult (e.g. BHAG or big hairy audacious goal or its wants to position itself to
dominate the ecosystem) it teams up with other predators, (in a permanent or dynamic
virtual relationship) into a powerful, well-organised and coordinated hunting pack. It
orchestrates the skills of its allies to its advantage in a manner that it seems to others
as its own (virtual -- David and Goliath paradigm).
The Agile Hunter
Its goals are clear. Its desire to dominate its ecosystem is clear. Its
methods and strategies are clear but changing effectively, quickly as it senses changes in
the environment and the preys behaviour (agile), as these are perceived by its
powerful sensors (research, electronic feedbacks, artificial intelligence, data mining,
intelligent agents network etc). With its understanding of the ecosystem and the behaviour
of its prey, it adjusts its speed and strategies according to changes in the ecosystem and
the events. This is the nature of the cybercorp beast.
Cybercorp is characterised as a corporation that takes full advantage of the cyberspace revolution
agile, virtual, global, cybernetic. A Cybercorp employs maximum use of technologies in
microelectronics, cybernetics and the Internet super-highway.
Character of a Cybercorp
Cybercorporation have a keen
understanding and takes advantage of -- Cybermarketing: An inversion of traditional
marketing norms. Modern electronics is changing the nature of marketing and inverts most
of the traditional wisdom. Value Streams: Creature within a creature. The purpose of every
component is clear and measurable. The value stream cut across traditional departments and
function areas and may even cut across other organisations. Predator Value Stream:
Creating competitive strength by focusing and sharpening it most strategic value stream.
Virtualness exploits virtual relationships, virtual products, virtual operations
which gives the appearance of something which in reality does not exist eg look
like a single organisation, but, in fact many working together. Network Agility has
electronic (web) links to other partners to virtual organisation can be assembled and
disassembled dynamically to seize new opportunities. The relationship can be static or
dynamic to suit the purpose. Ecosystem is the cybercorp: cybercorp become linked in
into cross-industry ecosystem. Survival depends on understanding the ecosystem and
managing its relationships. The David Syndrome: Small new comers are beating the Goliaths.
(As in the case of Bill Gates vs IBM in the race for control in the IT industry.
Computerised Choreography: Use of computers to coordinate functions of value
streams.Counterintuitive behaviour: Artificial intelligence. Beyond Darwin: Successful
cybercorp evolve change and learn at a very fast pace. Experiments: Parts of the cybercorp
need to be designed as learning laboratories.
Realities of Business
Business either innovate or stagnate.
Under the new environment stagnation is the same as corporate demise. Learning must be
continuous. The competition in the cyber era is intense. The pace of technology
advancement and obsolescence is fast - very rapid frequency of change in a very dynamic
environment. Small new comers are beating corporate Goliath in some cases with astonishing
rate because they do not have the overheads and built-in inflexibility and burdens of
large corporations. Software agents are needed to carry out actions for us in the
Cyberspace due to the overwhelming volume of information and information overload. The
cost of obsolete thinking can be enormous. This is referring to the arthritic nature of
old established organisations. A case in point is IBM they are not able to move
quickly enough to maintain dominance of the eco-system. Only 20% of value stream effort
contribute 80% of the total the outcome (Paretos Law as it applied to traditional
business situations.) Only 10% of value stream effort of a Cybercorp contribute 80% of the
total outcome. ( a skewing of Paretos Law). The traditional corporate ladder
(promotion) is gone.
Feelings and Emotions
The James Martins book on Cybercorp draws a mix emotional reaction.
The idea of Cybercorps dominating the ecosystem to survive draws a tense feeling about the
future. To corporations and future workers, it is like an anticipation of the lost of
innocence as they march towards a Cybercorp war.
Corporate casualties are organisations, which "go under" as a
consequence of fierce competition. In most cases many corporations will not survive the
Cybercorp eco-system which is characterised by Business environment that is tense. Any
corporation vulnerable to corporate raiding of strategic values stream. When one
corporation produces good idea others can copy it quickly due to the inadequacy to protect
idea via copyrights patents and likes. Information passes around the world at electronic
speed. Cybercorps, in their desire to control the eco-system will forever be cream
skimming or raiding of strategic value stream. Somewhere along the line, in an environment
like this any corporations tire and not survive the hostile environment.
Competition will drive the price low and improve quality to the benefit of
the consumers. The customer is a big influence in telling the Cybercorp what they want.
They get individual focus. Small start-up corporations can upstage old establish one by
simply getting smarter. (David and Goliath struggle). Davids do not have the overheads of
large established organisations and have not lost their ability to think outside the box.
It benefits the small companies because of low entry cost to access to global market via
the Internet infrastructure. This enables small companies to have global exposure.
Internet also breaks down the geographical and time barriers. Business environment will be
more thrilling to the individual components of a value stream. More instant feedback and
gratification to the customers and Cybercorps. This is what people demand and will get.
Less expensive operation because of the use of cyberspace, cyber technologies. There is
however start-up costs and significant effort in establishing and implementing
technologies and transforming the organisation to Cybercorp.
What is Creative?
The Virtual Concept
The idea of being virtual (virtual organisation, virtual
relationship, virtual products), strategy is creative. Virtual Offices: People
(electronically linked) can work in virtual space, which is devoid of geographical
location and time. (not constrained by geography or time). Virtual Board: A board member
need not be physically in the board meetings. They can be electronically linked in a
secure e-mail and "chat" or debate the issues. (advantage of reducing
wasted time and jet lag; increased responsiveness of organisation). Virtual
The Partnering Strategy
Partnering: Promotes close cooperation (partnering) to
provide lower cost and better service. One example is to tap resources of low-income
countries as virtual extensions of corporations in high-income countries. (this may result
in a shift of power perhaps even a re-balancing of economies). Web: Cybercorp webs
are group of companies with an agreement that they can quickly form a virtual company in
order to seize a market opportunity. The idea of teaming closely with value chain is
creative. Innovation is limited, not by the availability of good ideas, or technology, or
capital, but by the ability to command cooperation among the ecosystem players. This
refers to the creativeness of establishing non-traditional links and web across an
organisation and across organisations.
The Corporate Amoebas
The best strategy for Aging Corporation is to spin off new
Cybercorps. The idea of old corporations giving birth to virtual puppies (corporate
amoebas) is creative. This frees the puppy from arthritic nature of the
parent. We are entering an age when many executive realise that instead if
attempting to re-engineering arthritic corporations it is far better to create brand new
Cybercorp (puppies), designed for fast growth. Experiment: Parts of the Cybercorp need to
be designed as learning laboratory. The Cybercorp is constantly learning at the steepest
possible learning curve. How do you design it to learn as rapidly and profitably as
possible and modify its behaviour accordingly?
New Business Paradigms
Internet: The Internet and Intranets provide a means for total redesign of
corporate communication channel and structure and for new form of inter-corporate
relationship. This provides many advantages, including productivity gains. Enhance
critical Value Streams: Successful Cybercorp focus intensely on the most critical value
stream. How can you design strategic capabilities that are world-beaters and how are this
value stream enhanced by cyberspace. Entrepreneurs or relatively small companies can
create ambitious plans achievable by linking the right virtual partners. (BHAG Big
hairy audacious goals - are not exclusive to large corporations). With job security gone,
employees must engage in continuous learning process. The new deal is "You own your
own employability. You are responsible for your own job security". It may become
typical in the future that employees that are uniquely valuable and those who would be
expensive to replace are stockholders of the company they work for. To get advantages over
competitors the learning curve must be very steep and must go to the highest point in the
shortest possible time. Competition will be based on knowledge rather than tangible
assets. Non-traditional: Organisations may form alliance with other organisations that may
be their competitors. Suppliers may place a person in the receiving organisations
factory (for example) and may provide each other with access to data, design to promote
coordination and closer relationship. This is a non-traditional (hence creative) way of
doing business. Agents and Intelligent documents: Use computer programs to form part of
the human team. Humanising the machines
Survival Strategy: In order to survive the next century,
become a Cybercorp. Every business needs to think Cybercorp. Success and survival of the
company depends on understanding of the ecosystem and managing relationships. If the old
organisation is too rigid to change, evolve cyber corporation puppies out of it
Think Value Streams
The key to designing the most effective Cybercorp operation
is to think of corporate activities as value streams, whose benefits are clear and
measurable. Value streams that are critical to the competitive position of the Cybercorp
have to be owned and sharpened constantly. This value stream refers to the creative and
proprietary areas. Value Streams that are not critical and can be done better by partners
will be outsource.
Think Virtual: Managers should think in terms of virtual
operations, virtual office space, virtual board, and corporations that use a web of
Build Effective Staff
Cybercorp architects, rather than try to suppress emotions
because they gum up the works, should create ways to use emotions to release energy,
pride, determination, excitement, and the thrill of excellence. There is a big gap between
IT technical (technies) and the business world. This should be fused together in the
design of the Cybercorp. The Cybercorp world has to meld the alien culture of technies and
business people, which are growing far apart. Cybercorp virtuosos (genius with computers)
are assets that need to be looked after. Managers need to be able to spot them and develop
them. Cybercorp should be designed and managed, as far as possible, so those employees are
having fun. People and creativity are the most important assets of a corporation.
Management needs to carefully address fears and dysfunctional behaviours.
The only sustainable competitive advantage will become the
ability to learn and adapt faster than ones competitor. The cybercorp must learn
fast at all levels and implement the results of its learning. The gestation from concept
to cash should be short. Many computer professionals focus intensely on making electronics
and software works, but not how to create business with IT (Cybercorp) values.
Innovate or Stagnate
do not adapt and take advantage of technology will fail. Innovate or stagnate. In a
Cybercorp environment stagnation is equivalent to corporate death. What is the right way
to make Cybercorp transition? This is something which organisations will have to think
about and be very creative about. Also, they will need to understand what it is
they have to offer what their strengths are.