|About the Book|
As business leaders look to the future, especially in troubling economictimes, many are considering how to remain competitive in an era ofscarce resources. For most, capital projects are constrained and the ideaof growing the workforce is a distantMoreAs business leaders look to the future, especially in troubling economictimes, many are considering how to remain competitive in an era ofscarce resources. For most, capital projects are constrained and the ideaof growing the workforce is a distant dream. So what can business leadersdo about this? Some savvy leaders are recognizing the potential of virtualbusiness and more specifically, many are implementing a virtual businessstrategy to build a sustainable competitive advantage. Business GoesVirtual combines real-world practitioner success stories, augmented withproven academic theory, to arm executives with proven leading practicesto accelerate growth capabilities.Despite several false starts, the concept of virtual business is finallycoming to fruition. A melding of four critical enablers drives this newreality: social technology, visionary leadership, an increasing recognitionof the value of a collaboration culture, plus virtual worlds. This so-calledTLC+V (technology, leadership, collaboration, and the virtual) of virtualbusiness has suddenly combined to create exciting and uncharted businessopportunities waiting to be harnessed. Fortunately, some pioneeringleaders have blazed the path and demonstrated the untapped potential ofthis new domain.Many definitions exist for the term “virtual business,” and althoughwe do not want to engage in a lengthy discussion of which is best, we dobelieve we should explain what we mean by the term. From our study ofbusinesses in the domain, we defi ne the term as follows: “A virtual businessprovides innovative solutions to new and traditional business challengesby exploiting social technology, leadership, and collaboration inboth the real and virtual words.”This book examines four virtual business strategies that are showingunprecedented opportunity. The “any place, any time” strategy focuseson providing high quality service 24/7 by ignoring traditional geographicchallenges. Th e “people know best” strategy harnesses the power of everydaypeople to create value. Th e “everyone has a stake” strategy considersthe stakeholder view of the organization and guides leaders in tappingthis vast store of wisdom. Finally, the “real in the virtual world” strategy offers incredible opportunity for real businesses to sell their wares in thevirtual world.As with all innovative strategies, some potential pitfalls will demandthe attention of virtual business leaders. The first is developing a socialmedia policy that enables creating a collaborative culture while guardingcorporate intellectual capital—this is often a difficult balancing act.Equally important and just as challenging is the difficult issue of not succumbingto the forces we plan to tap. Social technology is a double- edgedsword and an angry consumer group can quickly become a network armywith incredible power: witness the Twitter Moms who took on a largecorporation and won.Throughout the book, we present a collection of best practices derivedfrom our case studies of real virtual business successes. We include ahealthy dose of not-so-successful stories to remind us that these strategiesare not a quick win but rather the product of sound strategic planningcombined with focused and skilled execution expertise. Finally, we gazeinto the future to consider what is on the horizon.