Businesses are defined by borders – cube walls, office walls, building walls, even fire walls. We put walls around everything. And each time you hit one of these walls, you encounter friction; you get stopped. There is always a new app or site to launch, always a new password to enter, always one more thing to click.
Think about it. To access the information you need to get your job done might take 5 clicks, 5 separate steps. Imagine if 5 clicks became 2 clicks became one click became no clicks. This is the new frontier: frictionless access and sharing of information, the ability to access and share information at any time, any place and any device.
Today’s technology is giving us the opportunity to become frictionless, to share online easier than we ever could offline. In the cloud, on the Web, there’s no distance to slow us down, no custom infrastructure we have to build, no paperwork to get lost. We can make connections, harness resources and start interacting without ever having to wait for physical stuff to happen first. This on-demand access to information and resources has already transformed long-established industries such as bookselling, classified advertising and music publishing.
We have started to do this with the new Facebook. Up until now, sharing on the social Web has largely been a manual process. You click a Facebook “Like” button, you click the “Check in” button in Foursquare, and you click a button to “Re-Tweet” something. With Facebook’s frictionless sharing, once you approve a media partner app, all of your activity—be it reading, listening or watching– in that app is automatically shared to Facebook. No need to click any buttons.
And, as often happens today, what is happening in our online social networks has resonance for our businesses. Indeed, many of the ingredients of frictionless access have come together to create the modern online subscription business model. A pay-as-you-go service like ZipCar would not be economic without smart devices, self-service web pages, a distributed workforce, real-time information updates and a cost-effective cloud infrastructure for automatically processing bills and payments. With all of those ingredients in place, many innovative new businesses become possible across a swathe of industries, all building on the game-changing foundations of being frictionless.
The successful modern business is one that is not fixed in place, contained within its own walls. It has to transcend physical walls and boundaries, harnessing the cloud to share information, coordinate resources and interact with customers, prospects and partners wherever they are. The new paradigm is not only flexible but frictionless.