If the moral of the story here were to “adapt to new technology” it would still be a worthy discussion. But there would be little news. Organizations throughout the economy have had to adapt to survive and many haven’t been successful. The Internet and the technologies that are associated with it have undermined the fundamental business models of many of the icons of the American economy. The impact of new technologies is a story that has been told many times.
But in fact, there is an even more important and interesting story that is unfolding in every sector of the economy. The implication of the new communications modes that have made global communication instant, ubiquitous and free have had brought implications for the way in which companies communicate with one another and within themselves. The classic model of communications for the firm is one that emphasizes the employees and management. Many of the key conversations that take place are therefore thought to take place within the box outlined above.
Even before there was Internet communication facilitating global connections, the boundaries of organizations were becoming less important and connections between the traditional organization and its customers, its shareholders (in the case of public at organizations this is taxpayers, and their representatives), suppliers and even host communities describe the multiple dimensions that describe the stakeholders in a representative manner. The pressures that they supply are easiest to see and understand.
What has become important in the modern era has been that the economics of communications have made it so dramatically easier that there are new voices seeking to express their views and to defend their interests. Even more importantly, there is growing recognition that the stakes really do matter. Transparent enterprise and the abundant self-publishing sources of analysis have made it easier to see strategic issues as they appear on the horizon of the leadership. The types of products, the location of tomorrows jobs, all of these issues and more are being contested in the new, increasingly competitive market.
If the Internet Age has brought a new era of challenge, the scope of the issues have moved far beyond adapting to the new technology and now include the Democratic Impulse that has awakened the stakeholders. √