Aggregating Communications

I like how Umair Haque has approached the strategic analysis of how traditional value chains have been disrupted by new technologies and business models enabled by the web.  He has crisply covered the disaggregation and redefinition of the the Media value chain coming at the hands of peer production, network economics and the Attention Economy.   

Umair outlines how Micro-chunking and Re-aggregation of media content, communities and services has created new markets and new opportunities for value creation.  It has also created disruptive business models that threaten the established media value chain of "Create-Publish-Distribute-Consume". 

Umair describes this as the emergence of "Edge Competences" that optimize value creation at the Edge of atomized value chains. 

"In a world of cheap coordination, the edge – the boundary between the firm and the external – is the new core. That’s because, counterintuitively, the strategy that dominates the shrinking core is to leverage the edge: not to simply build complementarities between internal sources of value creation, but between both internal and external sources of value creation"

As I’ve read his posts and considered his work from a (Tele)communications perspective, I found myself thinking about the disaggregation of the communications value chain and how "edge competencies" could be applied to create new markets and user value.

Here’s an example (and read it with a biased toward Communications):

"Conversations are another example of what I call an edge competence. Value shifts to the edges of atomized value chains (like Media 2.0) – and at one end of the chain, we have reconstruction/smart aggregation.

Now, we can think about conversation this way: it only really becomes possible when attention is allocated relatively efficiently. You won’t have a conversation with just anyone about anything (well, maybe at the pub) – on average, you know what you want to talk about. So conversation is an edge competence that’s built on strategies which efficiently allocate attention."

Umair’s model for "edge competencies" came to mind as a read a recent post of Andrew Parker . Andrew recently joined Union Square Ventures replacing Charlie O’Donnell (who went to Oddcast) as Analyst for future investments.  Andrew outlines his needs for a Communications Filter :

"I want a search index for all my communication and personal information. I already do this to a small degree: I log all my IMs in Gaim, which Google Desktop crawls, and I have Google Desktop index my gmail so I can usually find messages written and received through those two means of communication with a Google Desktop search, but that’s only a fraction of the communication I use. I want a service that will aggregate and, more importantly, filter all the various ways I communicate. By communication I do not mean only dialogues. I mean all transfers of information. A short list of what I’m talking about:

  • Dialogue Communication:
    • Blogging
    • Commenting
    • Site Messaging / Site mail (e.g. facebook, ebay questions)
    • Skype
    • IM
    • E-mail
    • Snail mail
    • Online photo apps
    • Calendar Appointments
    • Usenet
    • Phone conversation
    • Face-to-face meetings
  • One-way push/pull communication:
    • Service Announcements
      • Offers from retailer or other companies
      • Technical difficulties from companies (like my hosting provider telling me that my website is down)
    • Feeds/RSS
    • Web History
    • Bookmarks
    • My static homepage

At the intersection of Umair’s recommended strategies for edge competencies and Andrew’s desire to aggregate conversations is an interesting opportunity. 

What happens when we aggregate communications in a way that allows us – and others – to understand how to dynamically and efficiently allocate our attention?


  1. I am very sympathetic to Umair’s position on Edge Competencies. I think any implementation of a communication aggregator will rely on the theories that Umair outlines. I appreciate the input on the connection.

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