Applying A 'Chrome' Strategy To Your Own Business
from the the-flip-side-to-Nicholas-Carr dept
We recently pointed out Nicholas Carr’s troubling suggestion that Google was somehow unique in being able to leverage complementary markets to make its core market significantly more valuable. As we pointed out, this shouldn’t be unique to Google at all, but should be a key focus for every business out there. Umair Haque has now come along and written what should be seen as the flipside to Carr’s piece, looking at how plenty of other businesses can and should leverage complementary markets — often in extreme ways. As a starting point, he notes how Google’s Chrome browser is doing exactly that.
Basically, he starts from the same point as Carr: Google is doing things that don’t look to be related to their core business, but those actions significantly influence complementary markets which have the end result of greatly enhancing the core business. Haque sees multiple steps out in terms of how these complementary markets can be applied in many industries, while Carr does not. If the two were playing chess against each other, I’d bet on Haque any day.
For example, Haque throws out a few “radical” suggestions for certain industries:
Imagine what would happen if GM and Ford collaborated to invest in the components and architecture of a better public transport network — and then licensed it for free to cities, states, and countries.
Imagine what would happen if pharma players directly invested in better hospitals and clinics — instead of in trying to own the relationship with doctors, and furiously outspending one another when marketing blockbusters.
Imagine what would happen if Wal-Mart invested in town squares and parks — instead of just in featureless warehouses draining what little vitality remains in already bleak exurbs.
Imagine what would happen if P&G and Unilever invested in people’s opportunities for education, global mobility, and meaningful, authentic relationships with others — instead of just trying to control distribution channels, and then push-market more stuff to you.
Each one of those examples is about radically changing a complementary market, which might not seem to have a direct impact on the primary business, but which would all eventually create a much better primary business — just as Google is trying to do with Chrome. And, of course, it’s not hard to build a framework for how you go about doing this in your own business. It simply requires companies to really understand what business they’re in (focusing on the benefits, not the products) and to then understand the complementary markets, recognize how changing those complementary markets shifts around the rest of the market, and then make sure you understand where the money flows if those complementary markets are disrupted.
Google has figured out how to do this quite well, and there are a few other companies who are doing it in less obvious ways — but there are many more on the way. And, of course, if you want some help in figuring out how to do this in your business, give us a call. We can help.