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Friday, April 13, 2007

Wikinomics: Don Tapscott at Univ of Toronto April 13, 2007.

Early this morning I had an opportunity to listen to Don Tapscott speak at the University of Toronto on the topic of how collaboration drives changes in the markets. It was also named as Don's Canadian book launch for Wikinomics which was released in December of last year.

He reinforced the content of his book and discussed, how the perfect storm is comprised of the clashing web 2.0, the social revolution, the economic revolution and the net-generation. In addition to the discussion and examples, he hosted a panel comprised of an executive from HP, Oracle and Cisco (all of which were co-sponsor's of the event hand picked by Mr. Tapscott for their leadership in the wiki-revolution).

The presentation was good with some excellent examples, but I found the Panel discussion not entirely engaging. In fairness to the panel however the discussion was cut short due to time before they could really get into some deeper discussions.

When Don talked to the Oracle representative about if there was any fear from "mass collaboration" and "open source databases", the Oracle representative discussed that volume increases value and the need for companies to understand at what point to monetize value. For example, the value piece for Oracle may be in the support which they could provide and any customization would be given back to the community. The value from giving back would be to "raise the water levels" for all the boats. Personally, I still don't get the value proposition that Oracle provides here. Why don't I crowdsource the support as well?

To demonstrate the wisdom of crowds, the Oracle representative used an example that compared it to "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" game show which apparently the "Ask an Expert" provided correct answers 53% of the time versus the "Poll the Audience" which provided correct answers 91% of the time. Of course, to nitpick, it would be interesting to know when the contestants used these options (if they selected poll the audience for simple questions and ask an expert for hard question the results could be due to complexity of question)

Sun had some good examples and very progressive actions. They not only allow for corporate blogging for all employees but they actually encourage it. This would surely give most corporate lawyers a decent scare. The policy appeared to be straight forward 1 pager around using common sense, adding links to facilitate collaboration, be an active consumer as well as a producer, write about things you know and are of interest, write well, and in the end remember the blogger represents Sun even with all the disclaimers.

Cisco, had a couple of homegrown enterprise 2.0 applications they talked about. One called IZONE which sounds similar to the ID-ah!(tm) platform that I had discussed earlier. It attempts to harness the collective intelligence of the entire employee base within Cisco. Another one was CVision a YouTube for internal Cisco use. As for Web 2.0, Cisco talked about their involvement with Second Life.

I won't re-cycle through Don's material as it was very similar to his book. But I will highlight a couple of interesting stories he used.

- Geo Spatiality and digital stickiness will allow us to put a sticky on anything. Practical application is Intellizone which leverages GPS in wireless devices to determine traffic flow and therefore route planning.

- When asking a Net-Gen'er if the used e-mail. They said... Not Really. E-Mail is kind of formal. It's like writing a thank-you letter to your friends parents.

- 1/3 of's revenues now come from it's Open API.

- Marketocracy creates crowd sourced mutual fund.

- Pre-Release of his book Wikinomics, one of his staff decided to enter the term Wikinomics into Wikipedia and it was promptly deleted. Why? You can read the log to find out. There simply was not enough support to have it into an encyclopedia yet.

- Obscenities in WikiPedia are removed on average under 2 minutes.

- Don recently did a presentation on SecondLife complete with virtual book signing and a virtual cocktail party.

Don did spend a bit of time discussing the Economics of Mass Collaboration. With the perfect storm and the technology revolution enabling the social revolution, the economic revolution is inevitable. Ronald Coase, which Don refers to in his book as well is cited and he reiterates that the transaction costs (the costs for collaboration) that justified vertical integration have evaporated to almost nothing. In fact the cost of integration will outweigh the cost of personal outsourcing now available through the web and Ideagoras.

In the end, Don did circle back to his previous work on "The Naked Corporation" and made a last point that... In a world where you are naked... You had better be buff and know your stuff because there is nowhere to hide...

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