Book Review: 'Jump Point'

by: Balance Junkie

When they do arrive, Jump Points are necessarily startling and disruptive periods. They upset the status quo, threaten existing leaders, and rattle the complacent .... Most of our prevailing business assumptions will be challenged and a whole set of new ones will be born as businesses everywhere make the Jump. -- Tom Hayes

I received a book called Jump Point: How Network Culture is Revolutionizing Business for Christmas in 2009. I didn’t get around to reading it until recently. That’s noteworthy because the topic of the book is quite time sensitive. You realize that when MySpace is referenced as the top dog in the social media world and Facebook is mentioned as an up-and-comer – and the book just came out in 2008!

It’s been interesting to read this book at the beginning of 2011 because that’s the year in which its author, Tom Hayes, estimated that the Jump Point would occur. Put simply, the Jump Point is when the number of Internet users reaches 3 billion. That’s significant because it “will mark the first time in human history when all the world’s producers and consumers are unified in a single, integrated global system.” This will cause tectonic shifts in the way we think about and do just about everything.

10 Truths of the Jump Point

Hayes offers plenty of insights for businesses looking to become (or remain) successful in the post-Jump Point economy. Apparently, middlemen and intrusive marketers need not apply. In the new economy, businesses that are inflexible or try to control information rights will not survive. Instead, they will need to offer “mechanisms for customer influence and expression . . . or go home.”

In order to sell to the new generation of consumers, the “winning brands . . . don’t ask consumers to drink the Kool-Aid; they invite them to make it.” We are already seeing trends like this in music, publishing, and many other industries. Some of the new truths that the Jump Point will reveal are the following:

1. You Can’t Fight the Network

Businesses will need to understand how networks function and work with them rather than trying to change them to conform to antiquated standards. They need to understand the viral nature of networks and use that property to connect with potential customers in a way that authentically addresses their needs.

2. Social Communities Are the New Marketplace

If you want to grow your brand, you need a social media presence. But be forewarned: These communities “operate on a code of behavior centered on respect and reciprocity, participation, and affiliation.” The best marketers take the time to build a personal relationship with their fans, and attempt to provide real value to consumers.

3. Use the F-Word

Free. Many companies large and small have grown their brand and their revenues by offering consumers something for free. They can then sell premium or value-added upgrades to those who want to kick it up a notch. Hayes offers the example of Adobe and its PDF reader.

4. Reward Attention

With all of the options and information the network presents each of us every moment of the day, attention will come at a premium in the post-Jump Point society. Consumers don’t want to waste their precious attention on products or information that’s irrelevant to them personally. Businesses will need to provide real value to prospective customers in exchange for their attention.

5. Break the Time Barrier

Time zones become somewhat blurry in the Internet Age. The articles I write today can be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world at any time. And consumers have come to expect everything on demand. Servicing customers in a globally connected world means that businesses will need to have a 24/7 component or be replaced by competing enterprises that do.

6. Make Everything Mashable

Hayes believes that businesses that insist on pushing DRM (Digital Rights Management) will lose. Post-Jump Point consumers will be turned off by limits. Companies that give customers a sense of ownership will earn their trust, their loyalty, and their purchasing power.

7. Think Abundantly

The network is pretty much infinite. Unlike a bricks and mortar business, the shelf-space on the Internet is limitless. There are no constraints due to finite warehouse space. The “new customer paradigm” allows people to edit and contribute to content. Businesses that find a way to tap this resource will thrive.

8. Compete on Trust

Hayes proposes that “trust is the real currency of the Jump Point economy.” The winning companies will be the most trusted brands.

9. Become Contagious

A recommendation from a trusted friend is so much more powerful than any type of advertising campaign you could possibly devise. The successful Jump Point enterprise will produce products that are infectious and take advantage of the momentum opportunities that the network culture provides.

10. Pandenomics: The Network Favors Blockbusters

The network provides entrée to smaller, niche players to be sure. But it’s really designed for “pandemic economics.” The viral mass dissemination of information that the network allows can create blockbusters very quickly. A faster return on investment for any business means that they can reinvest in innovation sooner. Blockbusters can create new markets and stimulate innovation and competition.

Not Just for Geeks

Let me preface this section by noting that I’m about as far from being a techie as you can get. Yes, I work online. But I’m a writer first and foremost. In fact, if I want to write something really good, I still require a paper and pen. My brain just doesn’t spit out the pretty words for the keyboard the way it does for my trusty dollar store notebook and pen.

One reviewer called this book “the Tipping Point for geeks.” I disagree. I think this is a fascinating read for anyone who will live through this Jump Point. I was very much intrigued by the insights into the social, marketing, and investing implications of this seismic shift.

The Jump Point will bring with it countless paradoxes. I found the prospect of an Orwellian kind of Big Brother presence a little frightening, and the sheer uncertainty of it all a little daunting. Still, I had to wonder whether this revolution might help us out of the tremendous economic pickle we’ve gotten ourselves into.

After all, if we’re going to have all kinds of new ways to conduct business, we’ll need lots of folks to help us navigate our brave new world. If cybercrime becomes a problem, we’ll need special law enforcement policies and personnel to combat that. And if this thing gets as big and pervasive as it sounds, it could spawn a lot of new jobs, many of which we can’t even conceive at the moment.

Three questions then come to mind:

  1. Will the number of jobs created by this new economy be enough to offset those lost in the old economy?
  2. Will the economic growth created by this new economy be enough to offset all of the intellectually-challenged financial decisions we’ve made over the past few decades?
  3. Will the Internet Age be one in which the playing field is finally leveled a bit, or will we see even more social and economic bifurcation?