Well the ongoing discussion about web 2.0 and SOA has been fun but all rather academic. Whilst I like to read tea leaves with the best of them there comes a time when you have to go out and find what people are actually doing so in the last week or so I have been doing just that, going around talking to customers and seeing what they are doing.

 

The results were a bit surprising. First, as I thought, there is a big change underway in the business side of enterprises. At the board and CXO levels they are very concerned about how they increase their business with new customers and new revenue streams. In particular many forward looking organizations are looking at moving to a subscription or advertising based model for future revenue and forecasting a decline in their conventional types of customers and revenue. In some cases the can see their present primary customers becoming non existent in the next few years with the associated loss of whole areas of revenue. Finally there is deep concern about new internet startups entering their marketplace, collecting the new customers and siphoning off the revenue.

At the same time there is excitement about the possibilities and opportunities presented by the business and social changes going on, many companies which are well positioned in their fields have found it easy to gather large sums of venture capital to take advantage of this opportunity.

 

Interestingly enough my empirical observations were borne out in the latest McKinsey quarterly report.

 

These CXO demands have translated into a great deal of uncertainty at senior levels of organizations. The business groups feel not sufficiently in tune with the technology and in particular the whole Web 2.0 area and similarly the technical groups don’t really understand the business and social climate changes. So whilst the CXO level are pretty clear about what they want and are prepared to fund it aggressively the next level down are in a lot of angst about actually what needs to be done and how they should go about it.

 

In order to address this uncertainly I have come up with my own strategic business review workshop process which seemed to work really well.