Last night I read, Blue Ocean Strategy written by W.Chan Kim and Rene Mauborgne. Blue Ocean strategy promotes creating new market space or "Blue Ocean" rather than competing in an existing industry. The authors argue companies need to go beyond competing with in themselves and need to seize new profit and growth opportunities abd create blue oceans. Chan and Rene argues companies instead of dividing up existing and often shrinking demand and benchmarking competitors, need to focus about growing demand and breaking away from competition.
It looks good on paper, but creating a blue ocean is really a challenge, and sustaining leadership position in blue markets is equally tough.
Blue ocean strategy makes more sense in industries which are prone to technology innovations like say web conferencing markets
Web conferencing market is a highly competitive space fought between two set of players
Software based tools – Like Webex and Gotomeeting in which users need to download software before conducting conferences in a browser. Software based tools are primarily used by business users, medium to large companies as stability is their primary concern.
Browser based tools - Close to 80 browser based tools came in last couple years (Dimdim, fuze meeting etc) which radically transformed the industry by offering conferencing products purely via browsers without adding any software and at significantly lower prices. Browser based tools are slowly becoming popular in B2B space and enjoy a good amount of patronage in B2C and SMB category.
Software based tools hold around 65% in market share and around 80% in market value however it is intensely fought space driven by price and features
So how can web conferencing markets create blue oceans?
They can do it with widgets; widgets which create new applications and market segments
For starters, Widgets are mini-Web applications that are downloaded onto a desktop or transported into personal Web pages, blogs or social-network profiles. Widgets are built to share. If you see one you like, you can take a copy and customize it for yourself and use it in your blog, on your web pages, on your computer desktop or on your cell phone
However many brands limit the scope of widgets for content distribution, the real opportunity I guess is in adding more functionalities to make widgets as a “must have” tools for publishers.
Let me explain with the case of Dimdim widget, the only company as of now offering conference widgets
Dimdim widget is powered by clearspring and every time a user schedules a meeting with dimdim a widget will be created by default. You can customize it with features like chat transcripts after meeting, show recording after meeting, add countdown timer and registration form in the widget.
Like any widget, Dimdim widgets can be promoted in various social networks, blogging platforms or any other website just by copying a bit of code. Users can confirm their participation from all websites in which the widget was added.
The widget looks good, but got some issues in sharing options, when I tried to share the widget in twitter/facebook it gave some code and asked me to “copy and paste this url “, I am not sure where to paste it
Dimdim can take this widget to next level by adding e-commerce element to it. Offer a one stop solution to publishers who want to earn extra revenues via Webinars and a build a community around it, a community of publishers who want to share knowledge in various topics via Webinars and users who are willing to pay a token price to get knowledge
Let’s say, Steve is a popular HR consultant and runs a popular blog, probably he can conduct a monthly webinar on HR practices via dimdim and charge a token amount for it.
They are few reasons why Dimdim should chase this opportunity:
Dimdim and other browser based tools are increasingly eating software based tools market share and at the same expanding the total pie. Web conferencing services are now affordable to a larger set of users and new set of applications are build over it(especially in e-learning space).
What Dimdim should do is gain significant market share in b2b space by offering more stable services and gain trust of enterprise clients, at the same time expand the overall web conferencing market by developing new set of applications and reach new set of markets and users(like many of them are chasing e-learning clients)
Community: Community as a USP is a very strong differentiator and dimdim can build it using a widget which offers a large section of publishers to earn extra revenue and at the same time makes webinars more popular
Revenue per user: If successfully executed, the revenue per user can go up significantly
First Mover: First mover strategy may not work in all cases, but a feature like this will create lot of buzz and this will help diddim earn more brand recall and place it as innovator in conferencing space
Value Innovation: One more term coined by Kim and Rene, value innovation is the cornerstone of blue ocean strategy. Value Innovation places equal emphasis on value and innovation. Value without innovation tends to focus on improving value but is not sufficient to make you stand out in the marketplace. Innovation without value tends to be technology driven, market pioneering or futuristic.
Widgets right now are good to have, it helps to spread your word, but it won’t motivate more speakers to try Webinars. Building a monetary system around widgets, coupled with dimdim’s strengths in delivery platform will result in more users trying Webinars and create a blue ocean