It happened right in front of all our noses, but despite many warnings from geeks like me, most business types and politicians are surprised by the “suddenly perceived” structural changes Internet applications and services bring about.
Internet makes organizations transparant and it interconnects people and transactions in bigger and faster value chains. Sure but it also a. “disintermediates” or bypasses parties in the chains but also b. it turns some successful online companies “insides-out”, like you can do with a glove. What ??
Let me give an example. a: This foto is of one of thousands of local travel bureaux now defunct, where we until recently used to go and book hotels & holiday or business trips (in the head office there used to be such bureau, remember?). And remember the stress to get the paper plane ticktets in your hand just before the bureau closed on friday? No more. Everybody now books flights through internet from their home or office desk. And you can choose the most convenient and cheap flight from many competing airlines, pay online and print out your boarding pass, presto, no hassle. Yes prices fluctuate widely, so it is a bit of a gamble, depending on departure times etc. So the pleasant travel bureaux are dis-intermediated, gone. No added value anymore. Unpleasant for its former staff.
b: Something also happened to the airlines that had as their core business process: flying passengers and cargo safely from A to B with pilots, crew and maintenance staff. Great but no more. Not many business people have understood it yet but THE core business process of airlines now is the reliable and userfriendly online reservation system !!
Ask any of your collegues in Europe what RyanAir and Easyjet are. Their answer is: cheap flights by prizefighters giving simple services with nearly no extras included like food etc. maybe they are but it goes a bit deeper their central business is the reservation system that the clients talk to on Internet. Everything else revolves around that: the flying, car hire, insurance, hotel booking, etc. etc. Yes, right the flying is now one of the peripheral activities. So these companies have turned themselves insides-out and outsides-in made possible by Internet. Network Centered Businesses just like Network Centered Warfare some defense organizations in the world have introduced more than a decade ago.
Yes they are now called RyanAir.com and Easyjet.com. That is their identity and they show it.
Not everything is pleasant though. Not only the incumbent airlines are struggling to change their business models too, but at the expense of first class and business class luxury treatment. Planes are destined to behave more and more like busses and trains. Pity for professionals and the rich, but also the general public is not always overjoyed by the actual price/performance they get. But yes: what do you expect from flights that are only tens of euro’s? The following funny Irish film show the series of unpleasant surprises naive travelers experience after internet booking: called the “Cheap Flights Song” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHcim_KNZYw This is bad because people hate to be surprised. Like when you have to pay 2 Pounds to go to the toilet. Well, we may get accustomed to have to pay for everything extra in this Internet age.
PS (April 20, 2013) From this film you can see there are positive business opportunities for airlines or others, by taking away uncertainties or concerns for travelers. For example , for many the trip from hotel/home/office to & from airports is a source of unknowns and insecurities (sudden road congestion, trains that break down, very distant & untrusted parking places). So why not offer guaranteed & hassle free transport to/from the airport that also connect well (physical and on Internet) ON THE AIRPORT ( I hate it there and you have to walk for miles and often have to be unexpectedly at another terminal) with the plane you must be on at the right time. Especially older people worry themselves sick for months before the flight to their children, if they will reach the plane in time. Uncertainty eats at your soul. So there is room for specialized to/from airport-taxi’s or minibusses interconnected with airlines.
About this ‘Reisenfieber’ many have. Most people consider the French TGV or German ICE as just fast trans-Europe trains. But there is something more to them: once you sit at your reserved place (took the uncertainty away that there was no room for you) you have the sudden feeling… that nothing can go wrong from there on. Just like in a low flying airplane. Yes and that is what I want to pay for, feeling relaxed end-to-end.
jaap van till, connectivist