3.7 From network connections to value networks


    Social networking starts with people connecting with others, the process of which I have labeled “scoring friends.” Also, if possible, people connect with like-minded people. The Dutch network “Ambtenaar 2.0,” consisting of thousands of civil servants, is such a network. In this case, we talk about communities of interest.

    When information and experiences are shared between people in the broadest sense of the term, like within the social network LinkedIn and its many groups, it is a matter of developing communities of practice.

    These networks are especially useful for outsiders – if I’m looking for an HR manager, I’ll find about 15,000 of them in LinkedIn groups. There will have to be a suitable candidate among them! This congeniality also often limits these groups. Because members “stick around,” there is not enough renewal, and the community does not evolve.

    Yet, this development is the prelude to a new form of creating economic value: some call this a community of purpose if, besides creating value with social capital, something is actually produced that represents “old money” value.

    The old industrial society and the new Society 3.0 can find each other in the next phase of these communities of purpose if they grow in serious numbers and form new value networks, which, in turn, will form a new economic playing field.

    We see swarms of people, with a collective intelligence, where the power of the network is stronger than the sum of the parts. The development of these networks will have a natural turnover: people will enter it and will leave as well. Yet, this value network is intrinsically stable. In fact, it evolves – a natural condition for the survival of a species. You can read more on this in the next chapter.

    The Dutch social media expert Marco Derksen of Marketingfacts.nl visualizes and describes this social-economical development as:

    “The rise of digital media (that is increasingly connected to each other via the Internet) makes the distance between institutes and individuals continually smaller. We come from the 1.0-era where institutes spread their message through traditional media to their audience (send), in which case the power lies with the institutes. In the 2.0-era individuals have more options to share their own message with their environment (dialogue) as a result of which the influence of the individual increases. In our vision, this leads to the 3.0-era, where the hierarchical relations between institutes and individuals disappear, and where there is increasingly more equal communication and cooperation. We define this as the participating customer, citizen, or patient. Social media and other technological developments contribute to the communication and cooperation going off more intelligently and smoother, while customizing products and services to personal situations.”

    So, organizations have to rethink all of their strategies. The traditional client is long gone, and, in the literature, you see new groups popping up with names like “Millennials.” Basically, there is a new generation of clients who want to be involved in the value creation process. A generation of people with a different mindset, but also different communication and information needs. They are tough to identify. You need a strong brand, have to connect with them on social networks, align yourself with a cause, have an open culture, and include their opinions as you build new products. If you want them to work with you, you need to invest in their careers, mentor them, and feed their entrepreneurial ambitions.