The Next Wave

Internet-driven networks connect businesses to customers in new and different ways

In a recent white paper, Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corporation (IDC) called business networks “The Next Wave of Innovation.” The key to that innovation is the Internet. Author Michael Fauscette wrote that “The widespread availability of the Internet has created a broad business disruption that is driving change across all business functions. Ubiquitous connectivity and the free flow of information across the open network have opened up unique business models, ways to streamline and operate business processes, new ways of communicating and connecting, and massively scalable ways for creating and sharing content.”

The report goes on to say that the move from the Industrial Age with its make–sell driven business models, to the Information Age and the sense–respond business model, is impacting the world across social, technology and economic arenas in a way that is reminiscent of the shift from the Agricultural Age to the Industrial Age a few hundred years ago. The disruption reaches into all business processes and functions, and is driving socially enabled, fact/information based, connected experiences into the mainstream.

The disruption stems from a technology platform, the Internet, much like it did in the Industrial Age with its farm machinery and factories. These changes impact society and social interaction, and have broad economic implications. The Internet has opened up a wide range of innovations, including mobile, cloud computing, and big data.

During the Industrial Age product and process innovation were most often the biggest disruptors. In the Information Age, though, another type of innovation is proving to be just as, if not more, disruptive: business model innovation. It leverages the Internet and the technologies it spawned, to create new ways to deliver value. This disruption is evident with brands like Amazon, eBay, Airbnb and Uber. In most of these disruptions there is an underlying marketplace/community—a network.

Using business networks across the three broad categories of customer community, Enterprise Social Network and commerce can open many opportunities for businesses to improve performance and increase profits. The network can make the business more competitive and create value in many ways. Businesses need to examine the opportunity and leverage networks effectively across the enterprise.

Customer Community

  • Provides the key destination for connecting with customers and prospects--an important part of any customer experience strategy
  • Delivers value to the customer by providing relevant content and a platform for closer interaction and relationship building
  • Provides a platform for interacting more effectively with customers, a way to deliver relevant content and learn more about customer needs

Enterprise Social Network

  • Connects employees and partners for collaboration and increased productivity. It also can connect to customer communities and deliver customer information and insights to critical business functions
  • Creates the distribution capability for providing critical business data and supporting business decision processes

Commerce (marketplace)

  • Creates the ability to connect procurement functions to an active supplier network
  • Provides the capability to improve supplier performance and quality and to push supplier communications into the network for a more collaborative relationship
  • Helps measure performance and leverages advanced analytics to manage costs

Commerce (supplier)

  • Provides an opportunity to increase reach and grow business by building closer, more collaborative relationships with customers
  • Provides capability to leverage network technologies to more effectively manage all aspects of transactions
  • Helps suppliers use data and deeper analytics to build predictive models for better forecasting and business execution. 

The Internet and its connected technologies are creating massive business opportunities and opening up new paths to innovation. The online community or network is a major benefit of the connectivity delivered by the Internet. Disruption and change have a price, but the value of changing to leverage the business network far outweighs the costs.


Companies in this article