Information shifts toward the peerage of customers...

...so does responsibility for success. The net demands wiser customers.

The advent of relationship technologies on the net creates a larger role for the customer, and it puts more demands on the consumer, too. None of this enlargement of relationships can happen unless there are vast amounts of trust all around. "The new economy begins with technology and ends with trust," says Alan Weber, founder of the new economy business magazine Fast Company.

If you send all your workers home to telecommute, you'll need a whopping lot of trust between you and your workers for that relocation to succeed. If I tell Firefly all the books I read, all the movies I watch, and all the web sites I visit, I will require a high degree of trust from them. If Compaq lets me delve into its expensively compiled knowledge database of known bugs and problems with certain computer parts, it has to trust me.

Trust is a peculiar quality. It can't be bought. It can't be downloaded. It can't be instant--a startling fact in an instant culture. It can only accumulate very slowly, over multiple iterations. But it can disappear in a blink. Alan Weber compares its accretion to a conversation: "The most important work in the new economy is creating conversations. Good conversations are about identity. They reveal who we are to others. And for that reason, they depend on bedrock human qualities: authenticity, character, integrity. In the end, conversation comes down to trust."



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This is a blog version of a book of mine first published in 1998. I am re-issuing it (two posts per week) unaltered on its 10th anniversary. Comments welcomed. More details here.
-- KK