Friday, 22 November 2013

The peer-to-peer business model Part V




Part I          What is the peer-to-peer business model?
Part II          How does it work?
Part III         Relating the p2p model to the internet business model
Part IV        Impact of p2p
Part V         How businesses can use p2p
Part VI        Issues and what’s next


Applying p2p to businesses, a quickie!

P2P is used by those in the sharing economy, by conventional firms or in tech.  It can be used directly or indirectly.

Today p2p is used mostly by startups as online marketplaces.  They are the first to spot the sprouting of a new class of opportunities, something entrepreneurs do.  The first wave always leads to broader use in businesses later.  But progressive ones could take a leaf from them now and apply its principles. 

One method is to craft platforms, aligning them to specific corporate objectives be it marketing, sales, R&D or business development.  Create activity amongst clients and prospective ones.  Then mine the results, be it dialogue or a piece of work.  It is also an excellent way to carry out surveys, to track trends and for product developments.  Note though that this works mostly in the consumer space. 

A business could encourage enthusiasts to influence creation, say, of a new line of health-conscious dishes for a restaurant chain using p2p indirectly.  Some will become clients though that’s not the point.  An architectural firm could develop an online site for the crowd to design bungalows, buildings or interior design.  This keeps the firm in tune with consumer trends, directly.  A percentage could become customers because it is convenient to after they have outlined what they like.  A furniture maker could create a design website, a combination of a visual blog and easy-to-use design tools, for peers of retailers (partners) to design, re-design and discuss furniture pieces.  Since retailers face the customers on the ground, they have a good perspective of likes.  The chatter and creations would provide data to the furniture maker for specific pieces to manufacture.  Indirectly this increases sales though again that may not be the point.  It is used to tracks consumer trends, become more customer savvy, produce more saleable items.  The skill here is the ability to seed peer activity.

This new business method is obviously contrarian (for now).  Most executives will find it hard to accept, never mind trying to understand then apply it.   But should a company deploy it, a good approach to use skunk works popularised by the book, “In search of excellence”.  Set up a separate unit away from the headquarters until successes can be demonstrated.

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