Virtual Networks of Demand

I was talking to another Utah start-up called The Virtua Group today. The CEO is a fellow named Duy Beck. While we were talking, he used a phrase which really got me thinking: "virtual networks of demand."

Anytime you get an organization of more than a few people, you start hiring people with particular functional specialties to perform specific tasks. Therefore, getting anything accomplished, requires that you have a workflow (formal or informal) for getting things from one person to another in the right order, at the right time, etc.

Another way to think of this is as every person representing a little bit of production capacity with their own supply chain and demand chain. All of these internal supply and demand chains represent a "virtual network of demand." The goal of an organization is to find ways to efficiently and effectively service this network and keep it flowing.

From an IT perspective, when we install CRM systems, ERP systems, employee portals, workflow systems, personal computers, office suites, and the like, we're trying to service and automate this demand network. The problem is that we can't, yet, approach it from the standpoint of viewing each employee as a custom unit that has specific needs because of their role, their style of work, the way they learn, the way that they're most comfortable communicating, etc. We more or less give everyone a standard set of tools and require them to do their own customization. We just build a machine and expect people to be cogs in it, instead of viewing them as a big distributed P2P network. I think we'll see a trend in the future toward more and more fine grained approaches to this problem.

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