As you may know, I’ve long been a fan of opening business processes to the outside world… as long as it’s done in a sensible way. That may take so many forms that one could write a book about it (wait, that’s what Wikinomics was about, wasn’t it? I mean, below the gospel).
Recently we commented an astronomy project done this way. This week I’ve come across a few more that may be worth mentioning.
Everywhere. Thanks to Javier for this tidbit. This is a travel magazine with a limited budget and a very interesting business model. The editorial teams sets the subject for the next numbers and opens the elaboration to the world: anybody can send a relevant article or photograph; if accepted, it’s bought at reasonable rates. Web visitors are encouraged to vote on submissions. And let me tell you that the insights and pictures resulting from actual travellers, well edited, are not to be scoffed at. And the savings in travel expenses are spectacular.
The general idea is not new at all; so many channels have been set up to broadcast user-generated content, and so many TV programs now use them (not to mention written content aggregation), that “citizen journalism” is beginning to lose its alternative shine. But here the execution is very well done, and that is what marks the difference. And the profitability.
OpenProcedures. This is not exactly a new idea either, but it has a nice twist and a better implementation. A company that develops and markets a business-process-mapping software has recently set up a free online repository of template processes… and is inviting others to contribute, in exchange for clear recognition of authorship (and use of their platform).
The differences with the first example are wide. First, the only business process that is affected is the sales process (contributors are actually creating value for your tool, since those process templates can only be used with it). Second, the link to contributor business models is also thin (templates are promotional tools for engineering or consulting firms, no meaningful payment is made either for donation or for use). Now imagine it turned into a marketplace, where seekers and designers could actually trade not just generalistic templates but specialized ones, and where you could hire someone to do personalization and adaptation work… Still, it’s an interesting and useful idea. And it’s a Spanish company, by the way.
The “ecosystem” is in fact two different systems at play. At a business level, SAP capacities are extended into new areas (and turned into money) by partners competing among themselves. At a knowledge level, new solutions to shared issues are collaboratively sought by partners cooperating among themselves – often resulting in innovations that add value to all involved, SAP included. SAP does more than provide an infrastructure and seed conversations with answers (plus the building blocks for the business of everyone involved). It provides a set of rules and a sense of a general direction, much as the leading company in an Open Source community… but don’t let me get carried away (the issue would be good for hours), read the article.