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Weigend Says Companies Are Losing Control

I was at the Singapore Management University this evening for the Shaw Foundation Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series to hear ex-Amazon chief scientist Andreas Weigend speak on the topic The New Business Model: “Me-Business”.

Weigend shares that there are three kinds of companies – the “E-Business” or one that is focused on itself and on control, the “Me-Business” (the customer-centric business), and finally the “We-Business”, one which acknowledges that its customers are now bypassing the company and talking to one another i.e. becoming a community. You can find out more of what he presented in his blog post here.

He argues that the company who is stuck in the first category will struggle. Businesses who understand that the balance of power has shifted to the consumer and ride that wave will survive and even prosper. The old ways of thinking are gone, Weigend says.

There’s also a panel session that follows, comprising of Michael Issenberg, Chairman and COO of Accor Asia Pacific, OCBC Bank’s Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Global Consumer Financial Services Andrew Lee, Executive Vice President (Consumer) and CEO of Singtel Mobile Quek Peck Leng, and chaired by Assoc Professor John Davis from SMU‘s Lee Kong Chian School of Business. Wow. It feels like a disused library with so many stuffy titles.

From L: SMUs John Davis, Andrew Lee of OCBC, Andreas Weigend, Quek Peck Leng of Singtel Mobile and Accors Michael Issenberg

From L: SMU's John Davis, Andrew Lee of OCBC, Andreas Weigend, Quek Peck Leng of Singtel Mobile and Accor's Michael Issenberg

At least the conversational was humorous at times. OCBC’s Lee candidly jibes that his company is in a legacy business that is stuck in the first category. He’s not totally convinced on the We-Business, but certainly agrees that his company can work on being more customer-centric. Singtel Mobile‘s Quek and Accor‘s Issenberg argues that companies have to be all three – since they are profit-oriented after all. Quek says that his users are increasingly demanding customization of their mobile usage, but this means that his company increasingly loses control. The rest agrees. Weigend jests that the idea of ‘control’ is so last millenium, and the whole audience laughs.

I leave at that point, and rush across for the Singapore Digital Media Festival‘s opening night at the National Museum conveniently located across the road from SMU. Just as well I was late – it was basically a digital media onslaught, mostly 10-minute film shorts, for more than two hours. Honestly I wasn’t too impressed – most of them being overly-slick productions. Red vs. Blue (a machinima film built around the Halo engine) was irreverently fun though, and the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD was suitably impressive.

I left halfway through the program; I was that tired.

It’s been a busy, busy day. I’m looking forward to the actual DM Fest proper tomorrow, though.

Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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