Don Tapscott on Wikinomics

(Second installment in a series of Notes from FastForward 2008)

Don Tapscott: Wikinomics – setting the stage

Don started by saying that this is not new: Time’s Person of The Year was you, and that is soooo 2006. Mass collaboration changes everything. Buy my book! Now, seriously… 

Companies are becoming more professional and peer-oriented, less hierarchical, more meritocratic. This is not new either – Paradigm Shift said this in 1991, and Peter Drucker has said it for a long time before that. Why is it taking so long? The drivers have been missing, but are here now: 

Four drivers of change:

1: Technology, particularly 2.0 technologies: Things talking to each other – one friend has his sprinkler system couple to his intrusion system, in case a burglar jumps over the fence. In the new world, you browse the physical world. GPS allows not just positioning, but movement. True multimedia changes what a film is. New web based on XML, the web is becoming a global computational platform. In some ways, search becomes the new operating system, But legacy systems exist and the integration problem will not go away quickly.

2: The net generation: We have this generation that are not afraid of technology because for them, it has always been ubiquitous. We have had boom, bust and echo in demographics, but the echo is larger than the boom – in Asia and South America have tsunami coming along. These kids multitask, don’t use the TV, they are very active with collaborative technology, games and search. Their synaptic connections are actually different, since they have had this during their formative years. They use email technology to send a formal letter of thanks to a friend’s parents.

3: A social revolution: The rise of collaborate communities. XML has overtaken HTML: Flickr beats Kodak, YouTube beats MTV. MySpace has 15,000 bands….. His son created a Facebook group on Wikinomics that exploded and is now placing demands on him….

4: An economic revolution: You are getting new companies: Digital conglomerates. Google is the fourth largest broker of hardware in the United States. Microsoft, Yahoo, Google,, ebay – these are not some blips. Coase: Transaction costs is really cost of coordination and contracting. From industrial companies to extended enterprises to business webs, and now we will have mass collaboration. Example: Goldcorp, a mining company ready to be shut down, because the geologists cannot find gold. So they put their geological data on the Internet, hold a competition on the internet, $500,000 prize money, 75 submissions find $3.6b worth of gold. Many of the best submissions came from people who where not geologists.

How do you harness mass collaboration? 7 things:

  1. Peer pioneers: We are smarter than me, a book written by 1500 people. Spikesource: Tests open source software, certifies it, support it. investment fund, peer lending.
  2. Ideagoras:  Creating an eBay for innovation. P&G looking for a molecule that will take red wine off a shirt, Crowdsourcing.
  3. Prosumers. Turning your consumers into producers. 99% of Linden Labs product (Second Life) is done by its users. The record industry is the poster child for not understanding this. The final chapter of Wikinomics is a wiki…want to be the context provider for the definitive guide to the next century business.
  4. The new Alexandrians. The sharing of science. The Human Genome has transformed bioscience. Tracking Avian flu through mashups. The alliance for climate protection. Killer app of wikinomics may be saving the planet.
  5. Open platforms. – open platform from innovation. 1/3 of revenues from API.
  6. The global plant floor. 787 is a peer produced airplane, with their suppliers. Suppliers co-design airplanes scratch and deliver compelte subassemblies. The Chinese motorcycle industry is run by small companies that meet in tea houses, collaborate, now has 1/3 of all motorcycle production. Next year: 1500 dollar car from China.
  7. The Wiki workplace: Geek squad (20,000) design products for geek squad. 

“New paradigms cause dislocation, conflict, confusion, uncertainty. New paradigms are nearly always received with coolness, even mockery or hostility. Those with vested interests fight the change. The shift demands such a different view of things that established leaders are often last to be won over, if at all.” (Marilyn Ferguson).

Saint-Exupery: We should welcome the future because it will soon be the past.

We should respect the past because it was once all that was humanly possible.