I was listening to that rather old-fashioned device the radio yesterday when I heard something that made me sit up and take notice. Twitter, a company that has never made a profit, was offering its shares in an Initial Public Offering (IPO).

The remarkable thing was that only last week it announced it was going to sell shares for between $17 and $20 but such has been the clamour for a stake in the company it actually opened at $26 a share. This valued a company that has never made a profit at $13billion! The price is based largely on the potential for profit that the the huge number of user offers and that made me thing about how the internet has transformed the relationship between business and its customers.

As customers it has empowered us to seek out the best deals and forced companies to compete in already massively competitive markets. If they can’t match the price of something on the web they are likely to go to the wall. Comet for example simply could not compete with its online competitors. The internet simply dealt it a series of blow from which it reeled for a number of years before finally hitting the canvas.

The Power of Complaints

For customers the power of complaint is amplified a million times by Twitter and Facebook because whereas we perhaps used to only be able to complain to a select number of friends about a problem we were having with a company or shop, now we can complain to hundreds and maybe even thousands via social media. Businesses cannot ignore those issues in the way they could in the past. Reputations mean profit and that has made companies focus more on their relationship with their customers. This empowerment has been hugely beneficial for customers of course but it has also transformed the landscape for business who have to be smarter, leaner and fresher to live up to the high standards being demanded by increasingly savvy customers. Business has been forced to reassess how it works and reaches out to its consumers.

Business Take Upon Digital Strategy Rather Than Conventional

Businesses are diverting their attention away from more conventional advertising in newspapers and magazines to online advertising particularly via social media. The way they are doing this is more subtle than an in your face advert. They use competitions on social media where you have to like of follow them to gain entry and this allows them into your online social world. You share their posts with your friends and of course they can target you directly with adverts to suit the sort of things they can see you like, follow or search for.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a two-way street and benefits the customer as well as the business by offering special deals and competitions but make no mistake it’s a crucial tool in the way businesses are taking advantage of the changed marketplace.

Most Companies Now Have Some Form Of SEO Strategy

I doubt there are many companies without some form of online presence these days and even fewer without some form of SEO. Just ask yourself the last time you looked beyond the first five or six entries on Google let alone beyond the first page! Just the fact that “”to google”” has become a verb is enough to demonstrate the power of being at the top of the page! And of course it why Google is valued at $334billion!

It seem to me that the most amazing thing the internet revolution has done is to make the extraordinary ordinary! It’s taken the next step and become an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one. Revolution is a sudden, complete or marked change, whereas evolution is a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development. In other words a more normal process without the shocks that something revolutionary might entail.

Recruitment In The Internet Age

When companies are recruiting now the whole process up to interview is done online. Correspondence is done by e-mail rather than by snail-mail and the whole process is faster and easier to manage. New staff can be recruited with minimal expense and in minimal time. There’s nothing strange or unusual about it these days. The natural evolutionary step in the process is probably to interview via Skype! Revolutionary? Hardly and believe me it’s coming to an interview process near you soon!

The World Is That Of The Consumer

I’ve left the best until last as far as businesses are concern. If for consumers the world is their department store then for businesses it’s their market-place.

There is nothing you can’t trade and no-one you can’t trade it with in the global economy. And what used to take hundreds of man hours to achieve now takes just hours. No travel involved. You can deal with a business in Napal and a customer in New Jersey without leaving your office in Manchester.

The fact that you can sell anything to anyone in so many ways is not without problems. The different customs and tax regimes you might have to deal with add an unnecessary level of complexity but there’s nothing that can’t be dealt with and the potential results make it well worth the effort. In any event the evolutionary principle I mentioned earlier are already starting to kick in. We are starting to see a harmonisation of tax and regulations across the world to enable business without frontiers to flourish.

So when you sit down to send an e-mail today or do some research for work remember you are part of something evolutionary!

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