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The rise of Me2B

Posted on: Monday 27th of October 2014

We established Ctrl-Shift six years ago to help usher in the new era of Me2B commerce. At first, it was difficult for many to see – but the contours (and the details) are getting clearer by the day. This blog provides a brief overview of its key features.

B2C (business to consumer) was the only game in town when organisations had an effective monopoly on data and information processes and when virtually all information flows were ‘top down’ from organisations to individuals (in the form of advertising for example).

But that environment is fast disappearing. Today, increasingly, information is also a tool in the hands of individuals (as consumers, customers, citizens) and information flows are also ‘bottom up’ from individuals to organisations and peer to peer. In such a world, Me2B moves centre stage.

Transformational

Me2B is the critical, transformational effect of the 3rd – digital – industrial revolution. The second industrial revolution was all about using energy to transform matter. In those times, information was expensive to acquire, use and distribute. Only organisations could afford to do it, so information management became an organisation-centric process. Organisations collected data about their customers, used this information to drive internal decision making and processes, and to do stuff to customers, such as target them with messages.

But now individuals are increasingly able to gather information about themselves and the world out there, to use this information to inform their own decision-making and to drive their own processes (such as ‘manage my money’), and to interact with others, sharing information with them. As a result, the centre of commercial gravity is shifting.

The rise of Me2B is changing mindsets, processes and mechanisms, supporting infrastructure, definitions of value, relationships and business models.

  • Mindsets: From customer insight to marketing promotions, B2C models tend to treat consumers as passive targets of organisations’ activities. Me2B is about agency, helping individuals achieve their goals. In B2C, the key words are ‘about’, ‘to’ and ‘at’ the customer. With Me2B they’re ‘with’ and ‘for’.
  • Process and mechanisms: In Me2B commerce consumers/citizens are providers of information, not just ‘audiences’. Me2B unlocks the precious and previously untapped resource of VPI – Volunteered Personal Information. VPI is already well-established, and transformational, in its early, crude forms. The Google search term is primitive VPI, voluntarily input by the user. Social media is a form of VPI. Tomorrow’s VPI will be far richer and far more valuable however, peppered with verified attributes, structured as well as unstructured, packaged into discrete data sets to achieve particular tasks and drive particular processes.
  • Supporting infrastructure: Me2B commerce requires its own operating infrastructure. This includes personal data management services that help individuals collect and manage their information, information logistics platforms that enable efficient, trusted data sharing, and trust frameworks that create, monitor and enforce the rules that build and sustain trust – all of which, in turn, connect with long-established B2C processes.
  • Definitions of value: The industrial revolution built on the foundations of agriculture to offer new and unheard of forms, dimensions and layers of value. The information revolution builds of the foundations the industrial age to do the same.Me2B subsumes the consumption of products and services into the bigger and broader information-intensive challenges of life management: making better decisions, implementing them better, getting stuff done and achieving goals.
  • Relationships Delivering these new levels and layers of value requires alignment to customers’ purposes as well as their consumption needs. A crucial element of this is VRM – Vendor Relationship Management. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) helps organisations manage their relationships with customers. VRM helps individuals manage their relationships with organisations. This includes making decisions about which products and services to buy and integrating inputs from multiple different organisational silos into broader desired outcomes (the difference between having a bank account and being able to manage my money for example, or seeing a doctor and being able to manage my diabetes).
  • Business models: Put all the above together – mindsets, processes and mechanisms, supporting infrastructure, and definitions of value – and you can see just how big a business model change Me2B represents. As with the 2nd industrial revolution, in this 3rd industrial revolution those who don’t move with the times to embrace the Personal Information Management Services (PIMS) that drive Me2B will be left behind.