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Net Worth: Shaping Markets When Customers Make the Rules Hardcover – January 14, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

No one ever said consumerism was easy. At one end, the poor consumer faces a bewildering array of goods and services. On the other, vendors contend with a diverse and fragmented marketplace that makes finding the right set of customers akin to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. And in between are the billions misspent on muffed purchases and broken marketing campaigns that serve only to stuff mailboxes and alienate the very customers that vendors are trying to attract. The rise of e-commerce has only intensified the problem by offering consumers even greater choice and vendors more competition. John Hagel and Marc Singer think they've got a better idea, and in Net Worth, they present an online scenario that would end this chaos and give both customers and vendors what they really want.

At the heart of Hagel and Singer's solution is the "infomediary" that sits between the customer and vendor. For the consumer, the infomediary acts as a trustworthy agent who knows the needs and habits of the client. For the vendor, the infomediary is the holy grail of consumer behavior, a marketer's dream. The infomediary brokers client information to vendors in exchange for goods and services for the consumer. The result? Happy consumers, satisfied marketers, and a very lucrative business model that awaits those entrepreneurs and companies that are bold enough to embrace the idea. The authors painstakingly outline the challenges and opportunities of developing an infomediary business and go as far as to peg the potential market cap of a dominant player at $20 billion by its fifth year of operation. While the idea of software agents is nothing new, Hagel and Singer may be breathing new life into the idea at just the right time. And even if infomediaries never arise, following the thinking of Hagel and Singer is well worth the price of admission. For marketers, managers, entrepreneurs, and just about anyone who thinks about e-commerce. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards

From Publishers Weekly

Looking at the future of e-commerce, Hagel (coauthor of Net Gain) and Singer, both principals in the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, add a provocative twist to the conventional view that those companies with the best information about their customers will be the most successful. They examine not only how companies can acquire information about consumers but also, crucially, how consumers can control dissemination of their personal information and even charge companies for their use of it. To the ever-expanding e-commerce lexicon they add a new term: "infomediaries." These third parties will serve both consumers and marketers: consumers will use infomediaries to help them find products at the best price, avoid unwanted product pitches and protect their privacy; in turn, via the use of sophisticated filters, infomediaries will be able to provide targeted consumer profiles to companies. The companies will then be able to anticipate consumers' needs and offer them appropriate products. While some companies, such as Intuit or AOL, currently perform some of these functions, the authors predict that the infomediaries are likely to be new companies formed by partnerships between existing firms?most likely between companies with large consumer databases and newer, more Internet-savvy entrepreneurial ventures. Well-written and full of scenarios of how these infomediaries will develop, this book will interest marketers and those consumers who are eager to explore the electronic frontiers of the economy. 50,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (January 14, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875848893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875848891
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,476,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I can understand why so many people have blown off this book with their reviews. It's not pleasant to read if you're basing your business or investment strategies on doing what everyone else is doing on the Internet. But if you want to really have your preconceptions challenged. If you want to feel uncomfortable with all the notions you have as to who the winners and losers will be, then read this.
Especially read this if you're a VC. Read this if you're investing in .coms...Read it and re-read it...because these guys are peering into the future and telling you something that you may not want to hear.
This is a profoundly insightful book that will be looked backed on as a turning point in the history of e-commerce.
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Format: Hardcover
Net Worth predicts how markets will change because of the Internet. Infomediation is what it calls the new way of matching buyers and sellers. An infomediary is a website that helps buyers find what they need. It knows more about the consumer than any existing marketing department does today. This complete picture of consumer desire allows the infomediary to target just the right advertisements at consumers.
Infomediaries will replace junk mail. They will be much more like a dating service in that they will match buyers and sellers based on what they need and have to offer. Buyers will love it because they won't get annoying irrelevant ads. Sellers will love it because they'll find customers that are easy to please because they are the right fit. Sellers can also spend their marketing budgets on other more useful things like R&D. Net Worth argues that the infomediary model will generally reduce market inefficiencies, for example informing consumers of fair market prices. The new model also eliminates the behavioral misalignment between marketers and consumers. That is, marketers want to increase repeat-business, but consumers want to increase choice. An infomediary helps marketers know what choices consumers want, and its wealth of product information maximizes the number of choices the consumer has.
Net Worth is a crystal ball that spells out how markets will shift toward infomediation. It identifies two broad categories of potential players: traditional businesses and Internet start-ups. Both categories are further refined into several types of businesses along with what benefits and disadvantages each has as an infomediary play.
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Format: Hardcover
Net Worth John Hagel III and Marc Singer
Net Worth is relevant to three very different audiences. To business leaders in perhaps fifty large and mature businesses, not yet publicly associated with innovation on the Net , it provides a detailed plan for building a $4bn turnover businesss within ten years, by dominating a new business category, that of `infomediary'. Achieving category dominance has high initial investment costs but, particularly in relation to other Net business lines, it is genuinely a category where winner takes all and with highly attractive barriers to new competitors. To database marketers, to vendors of consumer data and to CRM specialists, it sets out the very different model which the Net will create in the way consumer data are accessed, used and profitably traded. To the generalist reader of business titles it offers a clear and challenging argument as to why, to survive, most businesses will have to focus much more selectively on a much narrower section of the value chain than they currently attempt to cover.
Despite its title, I suspect that Net Worth has little to say to those whose interest in the Internet is as a tool for delivering information to consumers. Its focus is on the Internet as a tool for generating information about consumers. But do not think you couldn't profit from this book just because you are not an e-commerce specialist..
A sequel to Net Gain The authors are consultants at McKinsey & Co. For one, John Hagel, Net Worth represents the evolution of a thought process begun in Net Gain.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most of the books on the subject like customer.com, webnomoics etc. is like a statistical survey of the CURRENT successful companies and summaries their successful charateristics. The reason that I like this book is that it starts from asking fundamental questions of what is the internet capable and hence how does it affect the fundamental relationship between the vendors and consumers? Given that arise the new business model conceptualized as "infomediaries" and hence its step to succeed, its economical, social, legal impacts. With this approach, the reader can gain insight to the future and not just the successful factors of the CURRENT status. What I dont like about this book is that its assumption are over-simplified and not well discussed. How would changes in such assumptions affect the informediaries? Besides, this business model focused on the information flow between consumer and vendors and hence its results. What about the the implication to say goods, materials, capital flows as a result? While I like the approach of the authors, I also questions the limitation of the book as the authors also admitted that there are many other valid business models.
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