The big power shift and its consequences

One of the premises of the book I am working on is that the balance of power has shifted in favor of customers. Like a lot of revolutions, this one has not reached its objective yet, but it seems to me that the trend is clear and irreversible, like the trend toward democracy which started in the 1700s and still continues today in the middle east and elsewhere.

Customers that are connected and communicating with each other on a wide scale wield the real economic power, and the more they are connected, and the more they communicate, the more this is and will be the case.

The people in control (or should I say the people that believe they are in control) are often the last to recognize the power of such connected constituencies, but that doesn't stop them from being dethroned or even decapitated in some cases.

The thread I am still working on looks like this:

1. Connected, communicating customers wield the real economic power. They have more choice, and more voice, in what they buy than ever before. They are more organized then ever before. They have more knowledge than ever before. These trends are only increasing with time. This means customers will set the agenda, determine the parameters, and make the decisions about how they interact with companies.

2. In order to respond to and serve these connected customers, companies must be connected themselves, internally as well as with partners and customers. They will need to be flexible and adaptive in what they offer and how they offer it. They will need to be transparent, readable, navigable to customers, partners and employees alike.

3. This will require fundamental change in the way organizations are structured. The kinds of actions required to serve connected customers are so complex and interconnected that companies will not be able to control these activities in the traditional, hierarchical, procedural way. The only way (that I can see) for companies to do this is to create platforms that support the kinds of entrepreneurial, peer-to-peer activities that will be required for them to operate as complex adaptive systems.

You can look at the movement from monarchies and dictatorships to democracies as an example of this trend. Democracies are far more complex and not without flaws, but they generate more wealth, more consistently and sustainably, than their more hierarchical brethren. Like complex adaptive systems, democracies have balancing feedback loops that make them more resilient over time.

For better or worse, this is what companies will need to look like in the 21st century.

Speaking of feedback I would love some feedback on my thesis. Thanks in advance!
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