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.