Editor's Note: Concisely, Now--What Business Are You In?Editor's Note: Concisely, Now--What Business Are You In?
Answering "what business are you in" is challenging--and exciting--as companies move to transform themselves, seek ways to build customer loyalty, and find methods for making life more convenient for their customers.
October 7, 2005
Can you describe your company or its mission in one concise sentence? Take Wal-Mart, for example. What business is it in? Consumer goods? Yes. Music services? Yes. Health care? Yes. Indeed, the company was in the news last week because of its move to offer basic health-care services (physicals, flu shots, etc.) in stores.
Answering "what business are you in" is challenging--and exciting--as companies move to transform themselves, seek ways to build customer loyalty, and find methods for making life more convenient for their customers. Think about companies like Disney and ESPN becoming mobile virtual network operators so that they can resell cell-phone services to customers. Think about Lexus car dealerships renting parking-lot space at major concerts and sporting events so that drivers of their cars can get special, up-close parking. Think about Sun and Novell embracing--not ignoring--the open-source movement. What about Google? What business is it in? The company, once known as that hip Silicon Valley search company, has grown. There's E-mail, mapping, biotech, nanotech. There's talk of office tools, Wi-Fi plans, book indexing, video. The pace of innovation is breathtaking. So, what business is Google in? Soon we'll be asking--what business is it not in? Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said his company delights in the lack of a grand design. As Schmidt tells it, it's all about being more innovative. I doubt Microsoft sees it that way. Google seems to be finding plenty of ways to cut off its air supply. While it's nearly impossible to concisely say what business Google is in these days, one thing is certain: The company is fundamentally and disruptively challenging traditional business models. Stephanie Stahl,
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