Think about how you and I book tickets today before you fly. Then think about how your dad booked his tickets 40 years ago. We open Kayak, farecompare.com and airasia.com on 3 seperate tabs and it’s the data, our preferences and the credit card in a silent poem to the reality of low prices when the middleman is killed. Your dad had to call that dodgy agent downtown. Pre-Internet, it was the golden age of Information asymmetry.
Think books/movies now. Years ago you and I could read the testomonial of one or two flatulent snobs about their view on that book or this movie and we had to take a leap of faith based on a source data that violated all we were taught in beginner stat classes about valid sample size. If someone made a shoddy movie or penned a crappy book, they could confidently count on the glacial speed of information flow, a few compromised ‘critics’ and fervently hope to recoup costs before word really got out. Now we have the review section of amazon, metacritic.com and the mother of them all for sheer speed of information dissemination : Twitter.
What you don’t have to suffer today (and your poor dad had to) is Opaqueness. Kayak, Amazon, Tripadvisor, ebay, consumerreports.org have made sure of that. Yet even today margins in entire sectors of the economy still continue to depend on opaqueness to survive and prosper. Think Consulting. Investment Advisories. Realtors. Lawyers. Government. Like vampires, the sunlight of informational symmetry will kill them all instantly. But not immediately.
We now have access to more and more information and it is exactly what most companies don’t want you to have. One of the key goals of the lobbying industry is to ensure this remains the case for their respective client(s). But much to their chagrin, in many sectors, thanks to Google~Internet , any claims made can be counterchecked and is. One of my closest friends in NYC is all about living with this reality and ensuring his SEO strategy is superior to the competition. It usually is. But every day is a fight.
As more and more empowered customers get access to vast pools of data, companies that are not offering a real value proposition at a competitive and transparent price will find themselves in a very tough place. Jeff Bezos proved that with Amazon and Pierre Omidyar with ebay. Information wantts to be free and that is going to be expensive for a lot of businesses.