Shifting service to spiders; a new strategic direction

The "pull" internet

The power of the new web 3.0 paradigm to be a game-changer in multiple areas has been spoken about a lot lately. One of those areas has been called "The Power of Pull".  In his book "Pull", John Hagel discusses how the future promises to be one where people will no longer have to actively reach out to gain information and services, as the services will, instead, come to them. In effect, they'll be "pulling" these intimate, and personalized, services and information to themselves in an automated fashion in any location at anytime.

Spiders and bees

The pull paradigm reminds me of the information foraging model created by Peter Pirolli and Stuart Card from Xerox PARC. In this model, the ways humans search for information is compared to the way animals forage for food. The authors note two different animals, in particular; spiders and bees.

Bees are active foragers. They send out scouts to find new food and develop complex communication systems to share and notify each other about the new food. They also engage in this active pursuit daily. Spiders, on the other hand, are passive foragers. They build a web, and then sit back and wait for food to come to them. The new pull paradigm within web 3.0 is basically a shift from providing information and services to bees to providing information and services to spiders.

Businesses are all bees and no spiders

What I find fascinating is how few businesses are strategically prepared, or have even thought, about this shift. I've worked in multiple industries over the years, and  amazingly, the majority of companies have business and product strategies that are all about the bees. McDonald's, for example, does a great job at fitting into the active bee's lifestyle. They are right there, in the middle of the flight path, saying "here I am to meet your needs".

Healthcare also, has primarily supported bees. An injured bee has had to actively seek out their healthcare provider at that critical time of need. This has been a critical mistake on the part of healthcare, as the majority of patients I've talked to are spiders and not bees. They are not actively engaged with their healthcare provider, nor are they actively seeking them out. Yet, they should be and they do need help.

Supporting spiders

As the web 3.0 paradigm changes technology to better support spiders, businesses will need to be prepared with strategies and tactical operations that support spiders. Otherwise, they will have a product channel that can support spiders, but an operational end that can not.

Apple, in a way, has already begun to support spiders, as has Amazon. They are great examples of what a spider strategy can look like, but they, too, have work to do to fully meet the spider's needs (we still have to pursue these services, but the level of effort is minimal. Sort of a bee-spider hybrid).

Social spiders, not solo spiders

One area that concerns me about the new pull-based internet (web 3.0), is that the temptation with this new paradigm is to automate everything and eliminate human beings from the equation. The spider metaphor, unfortunately, reinforces this as spiders are often thought to be self-sufficient loners. Spiders, however, are NOT all independent hermits. Several species of spiders are incredibly social, forming giant colonies.

In the research we've done, we've noticed that people absolutely do not want to be interacting with machines and only machines. People don't trust machines and don't find experiences with them to be fulfilling. When dealing with our spider strategies, we need to think social and not solo.

It's about relationships

Ultimately, the new web 3.0 paradigm needs to be about businesses reaching out to people and taking every opportunity they can to put them in touch with another person. The automated, mechanistic, version of web 3.0 will only make us more inhumane and alone, but  the power of pull can also be used to create deeper, more committed, and more caring relationships between people, their families, and their service providers.

A return to the small town community

In our past, our service providers were our friends. The town doctor and town bartender knew us and cared about us. A new strategy for social spiders that is based on deep relationships can return us to those lasting connections. That's true, valuable, and humane service at its finest.