Despite overwhelming evidence to show that the information age is dead and the collaboration age is in full swing, many business are refusing to look around, and continue to do business the old-fashioned way. During the Information Age, proprietary functions were smart — like Sony having their own memory disks, or Apple with their own charging cords for phones. But in the collaboration age these things just piss off the consumer. Who’s the latest to ignore the signs? Keurig – the company that makes those insanely convenient machines that brew coffee, one cup at a time.
Apparently, they thought it would be smart to make a machine that can only brew the branded Keurig coffee cups. This would have been a great strategy 20 years ago, even 10 would have been okay. But today, companies have to collaborate if they want to dominate. Companies need to see their competition as their coopetition and make their products and services open for anyone, even for their competition to benefit from.
According to a CNN report, the CEO of Keurig, Brian Kelley said, “Quite honestly, we were wrong. We underestimated the passion the consumer had for this.”
To their credit, they are going to be re-releasing the My K-cup accessory to allow customers to brew other brands of coffee; and that’s a smart thing. A company should never be judged by the mistakes they make, but by how they fix the mistakes. Let’s face it, we all get it wrong from time to time.
How can you keep from getting it wrong? Stop thinking that your product or service should have proprietary, secret components or ingredients that nobody else should have access to. Then willingly and openly share your best-kept secrets that you had in the information age. If you truly believe that what you provide is a full and remarkable solution, and nobody can do it better than you, then you shouldn’t be worried about your competition. Instead, find ways that you can work with your competition so that both businesses do better together than they could have ever done, individually.
This doesn’t mean a merger. You can collaborate with your competitors so that you both end up benefitting. A great example of this would be the new charging cord that has been released from Apple on their latest MacBook. The charging cable (USB‑C port) is an all-in-one cable that will allow charging, data transfer, and video output all in one cable… but the shocker? Apple has teamed up with PCs so that this new cable becomes an industry standard across all platforms. Now, if only they could make a cable that can brew those damn K-cups.