Open for Business: The Importance of Sharing Content
Most companies glom onto personal content like it’s 70% chocolate: they won’t even consider sharing it unless they get paid a lot of money. However, what they should do is start treating content like a Toblerone, sharing it all around. Some companies sell names and emails as mailing lists, but most don’t. Most companies hoard […]
Most companies glom onto personal content like it’s 70% chocolate: they won’t even consider sharing it unless they get paid a lot of money. However, what they should do is start treating content like a Toblerone, sharing it all around.
Some companies sell names and emails as mailing lists, but most don’t. Most companies hoard the information of their customers so that they can mine it, find trends, and leverage what they know better than their competitors. Imagine what Google knows about you given that they remember each and every search you’ve done since you’ve started using them!
Closed Content is Not User Friendly
The problem with this approach is that it isn’t user friendly. It isn’t easy for the one constant human in all this, YOU, to keep track of what’s where and what you’ve told whom. As a result, we have the same information in multiple places with varying degrees of consistency. This is because companies don’t tell us what they know about us: they simply observe us and lock away what they know. I’m sure that there are several search queries in Google’s database that I wish they didn’t have.
In addition to the stuff they know about you but don’t tell you, companies keep an amazing amount of information about your transactions with them: everything they can possibly catalog. This, presumably, is stuff that you already know. But do you really remember all of it? Do you keep records of all of it? And why should you, given that the company has records?
Open Content Keeps Customers
An interesting thing happened on the way to the Bank. One or two companies realized that the more open they were with their customers about the transactions taking place, the more the customer valued them. Then the companies realized that if they made this information available to their customers, their customers would be more willing to continue doing business. Banks, for example, realized that they needed to make all transactions available to their customers online so that customers could more easily streamline their accounting tasks. I can actually find out when I paid for that pink feather boa, for example.
Open Content Improves Service
A 2nd interesting thing happened on the way to the Bank. In addition to keeping customers happy by simply reflecting back to them their previous history, companies realized that by letting others actually transact with them they got even more business than before. So, instead of forcing customers to transact in one particular way like they had always done, companies began providing programming interfaces that allowed customers to initiate transactions in the way they wanted to. Over time, people helped the companies build better services by letting the company know which ways they really wanted to do business. I can actually transfer money with a click of a button now.
Open = Survives in the Long Run
There’s a trend here. The more open companies are about doing business, the better off they’ll be in the long run. Yes, it’s about user experience, but it’s not on the micro level like it is when we talk about interfaces. It’s the macro-level user experience, where the simple ability to interact openly is becoming a deal breaker.
And it will change business. There will come a day when Amazon and eBay actually make more revenue from interfaces they did not build than from the ones sitting at their .com domain. And they’ll be happy about their role as content hub. In fact, they might be in an even more powerful position than they already are. With thousands of interfaces depending on them for their inventory, the value of their content increases dramatically.
In the old way of doing things, companies held onto content like it was 70% chocolate. Now some are sharing it like it is a Toblerone. Give a little, get a lot.