The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing by Lisa Gansky

The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing by Lisa Gansky

A Look at How Sharing Defines The Success of Businesses in the Future

The book discusses the increasingly recurring themes of openness and platform that have been discussed in other books like Open Leadership by Charlene Li and Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson.

The core premise of Mesh businesses is: "When information about goods is shared, the value of those goods increases, for the business, for individuals, and for the community."

The author says that, "fundamentally, the Mesh is based on network-enabled sharing–on access rather than ownership. The central strategy is, in effect, to "sell" the same product multiple times. Multiple sales multiply profits, and customer contact. Multiple contact multiply opportunity–for additional sales, for strengthening a brand, for improving a competitive service, and for deepening and extending the relation with customers."

The book also references a recent study, which concluded that, "a recommendation from a "trusted source" like a friend or family members was fifty times more likely to persuade someone to buy a product or try a new brand. The same study reported that word of mouth is the "primary factor" behind between 20 and 50 percent of purchases, and emphasized the expanded role of information networks in driving this development."

WHAT IS THE MESH

The 4 Characteristics of a Mesh Business as listed in the book are:

  1. Sharing a high code, frequently used goods
  2. Advanced Web and Mobile Information Networks
  3. Focus on Physical Goods and Materials
  4. Engage with Customers Through Social Networks

"The Mesh model is based on a series of transactions, on sharing something over and over. Creating a share platform is the first, necessary-but-not-sufficient building block of the Mesh. The second is to create information infrastructure that takes advantage of mobile, Web, and social networks. Then each interaction, and transaction, becomes an opportunity to gather and exchange information with a customer."

The 7 Keys to Building Trust in the Mesh:

  1. Say What You do
  2. Use Trials
  3. Do What You Say
  4. Perpetually Delight Customers
  5. Embrace Social Networks and Go Deep
  6. Value transparency, but protect privacy
  7. Deal with negative publicity and feedback promptly and skillfully

WHY THE MESH

Tomorrow’s business leaders recognize that trust in a business’s environmental and social practices increasingly drives informed consumers’ decisions. Successful Mesh businesses harness information from customers, combine it with data from physical products and social networks, and then use that information to satisfy customers, and their friends, in ways never before dreamed of. Good Mesh businesses are smart about combining more frequent customer contact with enhanced information sources to create and refine superior experiences, partnerships, products, and offers.

MESH COMPANIES HIGHLIGHTS

Zipcar is one of the companies profiled in the book.  The author says that, "The robust information platform and focus on building the brand distinguished Zipcar from early car-sharing companies that were merely long on good intentions, many of which failed. In fact, Zipcar is primarily an information business that happens to share cars."

So if you’re in the information business, you are a Mesh business whether you realize it or not.

TCHO, a chocolate company in SF, produces "beta editions” of its dark chocolate. “Based on customer feedback and continuous flavor development, new versions of the chocolate emerge as often as every thirty-six hours. Version 1.0 went through 1,026 iterations in a year."

Why did Netflix slaughter Blockbuster? Blockbuster was late in acknowledging customer resentments, and late in understanding the spreading power of social networks to shape brand perception. They created a share platform, but neglected other elements that make Mesh businesses so competitive.

This is an excellent book that could help realign the business perspective on how to succeed in the future. Embracing openness, sharing and focusing on customer satisfaction are some of the key practices that could catapult your business from mediocre to stellar now and in the future.

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