When information is plentiful…

…peers take over.

In fact, as reliable information becomes common, almost nothing can stop peers from taking over. As computers and communications unloose a million bits of information in every dimension, we see peerages form in every dimension. Email and voice mail have brought peerage pressure to corporations. The flattening effect of network technologies and the subsequent turmoil in the organization of business firms is well recognized. But in many ways the emerging peerlike relationship between boss and staff is probably the least interesting and least important of all the relational changes now taking place.

More consequential is the relation between customer and firm, which is yielding to the peer effect. More important still is the relation between firm and firm, which is shifting rapidly to a web of overlapping nets. Still more vital is the lateral relation between customer and customer, which is just beginning to brew. Finally, the elevated relation between customers (rather than citizens) and the rest of society, a relation that is just now being defined, may be the most important of all, as economics elbows its way into every activity. As an example of expanding relationships, consider the traditional relationship between customer and a firm, roles that have been around forever. In the network economy the separation between customers and a firm’s employees often vanishes.



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