Disintermediation: Killing the Middleman

I ran across an article about a new Vancouver company, TheJobMagnet, that’s going to help fill entry-level job shortages by mass advertising on social networking and other Internet sites.

This came right after a note from a fellow consultant that he was moving back permanently to B.C. because modern communication tools meant he really didn’t have to have offices near clients any more.

And this came while I was working with a company in the New Ventures B.C. contest that is going to use the web to help small businesses create their own advertising.

The common theme here: Disintermediation.

Disintermediation is the removal of intermediaries who stand between knowledge services and those that need them, and thus control the flow of that knowledge. The advent of the Internet has broken that control.

Think travel agencies, or retail services that moved on to the net early. More recently, we’ve seen the Net disintermediate traditional media (or, frankly, in the media’s case, explode it), legal services, marketing, learning and training, and service outsourcing.

And now as Web 2.0 continues to evolve with Internet-based Software As A Service (SaaS, or on-demand software) models seemingly springing up daily, we’re on the threshold of something even more disruptive.

Most disintermediation is still guerrilla, in that it’s done by fast-moving small operations. But many large companies are starting to use the new Web 2.0 collaboration tools for performance enhancement, often through crowd powering – turning thousands of people into instant focus or brainstorming or problem-solving groups.

And, while their purposes and uses might differ, the commonality between most disintermediaries is long-tail thinking – they can access a mass group at relatively low cost.

This is where the real disintermediation occurs – in the bypassing of those intermediaries who have for generations been the gatekeepers of knowledge, and usually charged a pretty good buck for it.

So while some traditional business people look down their noses at Web 2.0 and social media as the plaything of narcissistic kids, from it is emerging a revolution that’s going to forever change business as we’ve known it.

I’ve only mentioned a few cases of disintermediation, but there probably many more. So I’ll try a little crowd powering myself: I’d love to hear your examples.