Where’s the Beef?

Today’s Highest Achieving Enterprises and Their Surprising Lack of Product

Consider an intriguing recent opener:

Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.

Something interesting indeed. Industries normally associated with tangible products and production are being dominated by companies with no direct role in producing anything. These technology-centric businesses thrive in the online (and mobile) space and are significantly disrupting their industries to take market share from competitors with the traditional “produce a product, sell it to the consumer” model. This new “supply the supply” model is the business of information interface: create a platform to communicate and connect supply to demand, not become part of the supply chain yourself.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes these companies so successful.

Making the Connection

Interface businesses leverage a model that minimizes both costs and risks, while capitalizing on consumers’ tastes for a good deal and personalized content. If we take Airbnb as our example – the company has no need to purchase, maintain, or insure properties, they just connect those looking for a place to stay with those who have a place to offer. The consumer finds accommodations that offer a unique experience, rather than just another traditional hotel room, and most often, pays less for it. The property owner is able to reach a pool of consumers they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. It’s a win/win. And Airbnb? Their “thin” business which neither owns property or has a storefront for consumers to visit, makes a bit of profit from both sides for making the connection possible. With low overhead and almost no cost of production, “a bit” becomes “a bunch” with minimal effort.

Delivering Relevant Information

The internet plus the technology of today means consumers have access to more information than ever before – it’s at their fingertips, in their pockets and purses, and on their wrists. There’s so much information that it can be overwhelming to deal with. Interface services like Kayak and even Facebook appeal to consumers by collecting up that information and content and presenting only the most pertinent information to individual consumers – I only care about my friends on Facebook, not everyone. However, I’m sometimes willing to “friend” organizations and pages Facebook suggests to me; I’ll likely follow a page if the content matches up with of my interests, and Facebook knows this. As a consumer, I want to see the flights between Kansas City and New York listed for every airline, but my main concern is how long it takes to get there – Kayak, could you sort results by duration? Facebook doesn’t have to generate any editorials and Kayak doesn’t have to worry about the weather at O’Hare. They just sit back and reap the rewards of providing the correct information to the interested consumer at the right time.

Your Business’s Meat & Potatoes

When we think about modern life, it’s hard to imagine it without the conveniences of interface businesses that connect us to the information and products we want. (Life without Amazon? Inconceivable!) And while most of us have our ears cocked for the next “it” app or service that offers to connect us to even more personalized information for an even better price; efficient, effective ways to connect employees to the information and documents they need to go about their daily business may not be something we’re necessarily “listening” for.

But in the age of big data, workers are spending about 30% of each workday looking for information. Now, more than ever, a thin layer of interface can make a big difference. Your business—and your employees– can do more with the best, most relevant business information. Take a moment to consider your business:

  • It’s 3pm. Do you know where your data is? ALL of it? Even the archives and historic records? Uber knows which of its drivers is closest to those concert-goers trying to get to the arena; do you know where we keep the expense reports?
  • How quickly and easily can you get to it? Airbnb can connect a hipster to a boho-chic loft downtown for next weekend instantly. Can your interface system connect Janice in Accounting to last month’s invoice from Vendor X as easily?
  • You’re mobile. You probably tweet, text, and Tumblr while on the go. Can your business data keep up with your busy lifestyle? Can you access that important contract from your smart phone? More importantly, can your boss digitally sign off on it from hers as she waits for a plane in Newark?

Connecting people with what they need to know is what interface does, and the options out there for businesses are as advanced and convenient as the options for shopping, travel, and social media. The same thin interface that is so successful, and has become so necessary, in a world of digital data and smart devices can have the same effects on your business as it does on your life outside of work: delivering a better experience and saving you time and money. Welcome to the world of Enterprise Content Management (ECM): information interface for businesses.

Information. It’s what’s for dinner, and ECM is serving it up piping hot.

Information is the lifeblood and ‘main course’ of any business. While you may be providing products and services to your customers using a more traditional supply chain model, your business runs on data, documents, and details. Are you able to serve up any document, or any bit of data, instantly and easily? The technology to go through every piece of information your company has in seconds is already out there, and it’s as easy as a Google-type search. Janice in Accounting wants to see invoices displayed by vendor, but you only want to know what’s been processed in the last two weeks? No problem: your ECM interface displays the information that’s most useful to you, in the way that makes the most sense for how you want to use it. And just like Kayak, the system isn’t changing the information itself, or even where it’s stored, the ECM interface simply delivers customized results to the information consumer on a silver platter.

Need access to your archive on the go? The ability to digitally sign documents from your smart phone? Real time reporting on real business activity from anywhere on the planet? Cloud-based ECMs with advanced mobile apps offer the icing-on-the-cake services that meet and exceed your wish list for what an interface system can do. And since the cloud can offer software as a service (SaaS) and scalability, filet mignon services are often available at ground chuck prices, making ECM attainable even for small businesses and municipal governments with limited budgets.

The digital age is here. Doesn’t your business deserve the same level of white-glove service you experience when shopping, planning travel, or keeping up with social media? Customized results for time and cost savings for businesses are being served up via ECM interfaces, providing the right information to the right person at the right time. It’s never been easier to get to the ‘meat’ of the matter in an instant and at a cost savings.

5i Solutions

Innovative Ideas for Intelligent Interaction with Information.  That’s what 5i Solutions Inc. is all about.

5i Solutions will customize an ECM solution to your current system, integrating seamlessly for high adoption rates and ease of use. 5i can help you clear the backlog of paper documents by converting them into digital smart data, using automated or on-site services to ensure you never need to worry about data entry or finding the information you need again. We offer cloud-based solutions that combine the everywhere access of mobile apps and access with the security of 256-bit encryption and granular permissions-based access rules.

5i Solutions.  One single, secure point of intake, access, and storage.  One singular solution. White glove service, delivering a heaping helping of information interface for your business: ECM at its finest.

5i Solutions, Inc.

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