There was a popular myth in the late 1990’s that the e-commerce revolution would lead to the death of the intermediary. Why buy a holiday through a travel agent, insurance through a broker or a property through an estate agent when you can go direct? Or so the logic went. Michael Hammer writing for Information Week back in July 2000 called this out in his article “The myth of disintrmediation” he wrote:
1. Strong insight into the end consumer – see my post on the opportunities presented by the combination of broadband, hardware device explosion, cloud computing, apps & social networks. Together these provide new ways to connect to consumers on their terms, collect huge amounts of data (ideally with their permission and also on their terms!) and better meet customer needs.
2. A unique product offering (e.g. innovative media content that people want to consume or an artisan product). Esteban Kolsky recently pointed me at this great story on “A revival in American Manufacturing, Led by Brooklyn foodies”; a superb reminder of Chris Anderson’s long tail in action.
3. Flexible pricing – the airline industry seems to lead the way in constantly changing ticket prices based on demand, fuel costs and market conditions yet other industries lag far behind and are unable to change their pricing in months. In a world of big data and intermediaries Customers will want to pay for what they use, when they use it and get the best deal at that time rather than being locked into long contracts. Pricing therefore needs to be dynamic enough to be changed and adapted at speed.