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By double-handling the books, Amazon still incurs unnecessary costs. The value chains of scores of other industries will become ripe for unbundling. The best salespeople left. That, in turn, will create opportunities for another focused competitor to pick off a different part of the value chain. Little electronic tablets are not going to replace it very soon. Maybe, despite the projected budget cuts of 5 to 7 percent, the stars on the staff will declare, like W. A fundamental shift in the economics of information is under way—a shift that is less about any specific new technology than about the fact that a new behavior is reaching critical mass. They are unconstrained by management traditions, organizational structures, customer relationships, or fixed assets. Beliefs must always come before policies, practices, and goals. Reprint No. Web browsers do much less but reach the entire universe of financial institutions. And it is easier for customers to switch from one supplier to another.

These "3 Cs" were illuminated by much more robust empirical analysis at ever-more granular levels of detail, as industries and organizations were disaggregated into business units, activities, processes, and individuals in a search for sources of competitive advantage.

And it is precisely this trade-off that is now being blown up.

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What will happen to health care providers and insurers if a uniform electronic format for patient records eliminates a major barrier that today discourages patients from switching hospitals or doctors? Inside large corporations, the emergence of universal, open standards for exchanging information over intranets fosters cross-functional teams and accelerates the demise of hierarchical structures and their proprietary information systems.

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Operating on lower margins, the specialists will be able to offer lower prices, and so will steal customers away from the established companies. Since , good management and enterprising journalism have seen profit margins double to 19 percent. In what situations will these trade-offs be eliminated? The prevailing concept in strategy up to the s was to create a product of high technical quality. But once everyone is connected electronically, information can travel by itself. Differences in value chains—that is, differences in how competitors perform strategic activities or differences in which activities they choose to perform—are the basis for competitive advantage. Others will create insurance and mortgage calculators or intelligent-agent software that can search for and evaluate products. They are unconstrained by management traditions, organizational structures, customer relationships, or fixed assets. When the trade-off between richness and reach is eliminated, channels are no longer necessary: everyone communicates richly with everyone else on the basis of shared standards. But soon, through Internet technologies, customers will have direct access to product providers.

In an attempt to cover some of the costs of the print exercise, we invested in simultaneously making a television documentary we could sell internationally. Customers will be able to contact any financial institution for any kind of service or information.

To the extent that information is embedded in physical modes of delivery, its economics are governed by a basic law: the trade-off between richness and reach.

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The economics playing out in the television industry are a model for what will likely emerge in the world of universal connectivity.

Auto dealers, for example, know the best local prices for a given model.

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And so for Knight Ridder has set itself a new objective, a 21 percent profit margin.

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Strategy and the New Economics of Information