"The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow". You might think that these are the words of some eager internet start-up, but they are not. These are the words of Rupert Murdoch owner of News International the world's largest media conglomerate. What Murdoch recognises is that "with the Internet it's easy and cheap to start a newspaper and there are millions of voices and people (who) want to be heard". And it's not just publishing that is affected. All of our customers' businesses are affected. They all need to be fast and getting faster. For us to succeed we need to help them.
We need to help them to become flat too. The old business hierarchies are disappearing. Email, social media, intranets, conferencing and blogs are removing barriers between the bosses and the staff, creating faster multi-channel collaboration and delivering empowerment, innovation and agility. To paraphrase Thomas Friedman, the world has been flattened. People can plug and play from anywhere and natural talent is now more important than geography or heirarchy.
The internet has connected customers to ... everywhere. Ten years ago you might have gone and chosen which TV to buy after listening to the salesperson's advice. Today, you might buy online or from the store, but you'll probably read reviews from other customers before you do. You can go to the manufacturer's website and connect with them and other users, telling them what you like and what you don't. The smartest companies listen, because new ideas come from conversations.
As Charles Leadbeater said "the 20th century was about mass production for mass consumption - the 21st century will be about mass creativity". Our success will be built upon helping people be more creative.
So our real value to our customers is the extent to which we can help them to connect, collaborate and compete.
 The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (2005) a best-selling book by a Pulitzer prize winning author