Review of Don Tapscott’s and Anthony Williams’ Wikinomics

Published March 1, 2007

Wikinomics explores an emerging business strategy in a world where consumers promote and, to a degree, own your brand. In his latest book, Dan Tapscott argues that you can ignore it to your peril or embrace it and be adored through the work of an unpaid evangelist workforce. Tapscott suggests to adapt, and quickly –these changes are here to stay and will continue to unfold as time progresses.

In the second chapter, Tapscott describes “The Perfect Storm” where technology, demographics and global economics are converging for the first Category 6 Business Revolution. Citing the 1937 paper by Ronald Coase, “The Nature of the Firm,” Tapscott examines how business transaction costs have fallen steeply – once an advantage for large corporations but now exposing a weakness of being a large entity. Be sure to read pages 55-57 and ask yourself, “How does Coase’s Law affect my business and what should I do about it?”

The archetypal corporate culture is just starting to appreciate the magnitude of the changes necessary to create this new type of hyper-responsive and customer-focused corporate culture. Tapscott describes the cultural changes as a revolution – moving from organizations built to push their own ideas and products to using the wisdom of crowds to form new and better products and offerings. It takes strong leadership from people who “get it” to lead this type of change in larger corporations. Small businesses or open-minded corporate structures have an advantage here, in that they can adapt quickly. Wikinomics begins to explore many examples of how to approach this new and changing era with relevant examples and it would be foolish to ignore this unique value proposition.

Some people will claim this book offers no new material. To someone who reads the blogosphere daily, the stories or examples may not be brand new. However, those same people likely didn’t read it with an open mind to the new businesses practices of Web 2.0 – the underlying business principles of revenue generation from your primary business activities. Others might be critical of the unique words that are invented in the book (prosumers, ideagoras, etc.) and those people might have a stronger case.

Tapscott’s previous book, The Naked Corporation: How the Age of Transparency Will Revolutionize Business, is also a useful read. It is primarily about transparency and trust in the post-Enron era. It created a conversation around the issues of enterprise data strategy while encouraging openness and transparency to build public trust. This advice is not dissimilar to that given to a new blogger. The correlations of building a strong corporate culture of trust and that of open blogging that is not micro-managed is almost perfect.