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The Me2B opportunity

Posted on: Monday 5th of October 2015

A core message from our forthcoming Growth Through Trust conference in London on December is that, like the discovery of America, a fast-emerging ‘Me2B’ market is opening up a new continent of innovation opportunities.

Irreversible and fundamental change

Behind this new Me2B market lie fundamental and irreversible shifts in our society’s information flows and the economics that underly them.

First, we are shifting from a world of ‘top down’ information flows (traditional media and advertising) to bottom up and peer to peer. All the big new platforms of the 21st century including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Linked are driven by information input and volunteered by individuals. Traditional B2C business models are predicated on these fading ‘top down’ information flows.

Second, a million–fold fall in the costs of gathering, storing and sharing information over the past few decades means that individuals can now do things with data that only large corporations could do a few a decades ago. That means B2C assumptions that only organisations can make commercial use of data are crumbling.

These developments are making a shift from traditional B2C business models to new Me2B models inevitable: a shift in what value looks like, how it is created and delivered, via what interactions and transactions with who.

Value gaps

Most of us are so used to B2C business models that we don’t even think an alternative is possible. In B2C models, ‘producers’ create and sell products and services to ‘consumers’ who ‘consume’ them. This is great as far as it goes, but the very successes of this system creates its own value gaps.

One critical value gap is decision support. Decision support services add value not by providing something that consumers can consume but by helping them make better decisions, including purchase decisions. This opportunity was neglected in the B2C era for two reasons:

First, it was not a consumer need that top down 20th century marketers had an interest in meeting. They were more interested in promoting their own products and services ahead of their rivals. Second, decision support is an information intensive task that can only be undertaken cheaply and well in the modern information age.

Another critical value gap is what we call life management. These services deal primarily with the gaps left between  traditional silo’d services. In financial services for example, ‘managing my money’ requires an overview of many different current accounts, credit cards, loans, savings, mortgages, pensions, investments etc. Likewise, ‘moving home’ requires the integration of multiple different legal, mortgage, estate agency, home moving and other services.

Life management services help individuals integrate, orchestrate and administer multiple specialist inputs such as these to create higher order desired outcomes.

The third critical value gap is personal data management services. Some of these services are simply a by-product of technology trends: we didn’t need password manager services before passwords and log-ins became a headache. But more fundamentally, for individuals to operate efficiently in a digital age they need help in gathering, storing, managing and sharing their digital data in ways that keep them safe and in control – and which support their use of other services such as decision support and life management.

A huge new market 

Separately and together these value gaps are big. Very big. And addressing them affects every main activity in every ‘life department’ (e.g. home, health, money, travel & transport, leisure etc),

But how big? Our research shows immediate direct revenue streams of £16.5bn for the new ‘Personal Information Management Services’ (PIMS) that are creating Me2B. But these direct revenue streams ignores the secondary knock on impacts which are much, much bigger.

The B2C era created big powerful channels to market for brands, including mass media, mass retail and CRM systems. The Me2B era is creating equally big, but different channels to market for consumers. Why bother paying attention to advertising if your peer to peer, price comparison or other information service helps you make a better decision, easier and quicker? Why bother going to a traditional store if you can just as easily buy from Instagram, or Facebook, or YouTube or  any other new, emerging channel? Why invest time and effort in a relationship with a single product provider when a life management service helps you achieve your real goals?

By changing the way consumers and brands interact and transact, Me2B innovators are diverting old revenue streams (advertising, commission and so on) to new fields.  And they’re also making new money available. Who, 15 years ago, would have thought that one single consumer activity – search – would be worth more than $50bn? But search is just one small element of the bigger market for decision support.

For those that seize the opportunity they promise new revenue streams and richer, closer relationships with customers. Those who ignore the trend risk being disintermediated, with their products and services commoditised.

Making it real

Ctrl-Shift are working with those at the cutting edge of new Me2B markets. Me2B innovations are changing the competitive landscape for every brand. Our Growth Through Trust conference is designed to help you find out what these innovations are  – and where the opportunities lie for your organisation.