What will become of the man in the middle??

middle manA friend of mine was a very successful travel agent some years ago. He refused to acknowledge what the Internet would do to the travel industry. As a result he is now walking away from his business because it is now worth virtually nothing. He had the industry knowledge but not the foresight to develop an online travel service like WebJet.com…but didn’t see the opportunity.

Now many other industries face the same situation because it is easy for suppliers/manufacturers/growers to speak directly with consumers via Web 2.0 tool.

There are obvious applications for recruitment of staff, the buying and selling of real estate and all manner of online direct sales. But there are many areas where compliance with legislation and/or complexity of the product/service appear to make the middleman’s ability to deal face to face a vital ingredient.

But when I read of services that now link consumers with farmers cutting out retailers and wholesalers and lending services that are linking lenders direct to borrowers it is obvious that where there is a will there is a way.

For quite some time the major retailers have been forcing many of their primary produce suppliers (eg Fruit and Veg) to enter into online auctions and bid direct rather than leaving it to a wholesalers or a co-op to find the market for them and take a cut off the top.

So the challenge is to find a way to take your product/service to a much larger and more widely spread market by mass producing and charging low fees. Is it possible for you to go from charging 400 people $1,000 for face to face service to 40,000 paying $10 for a fast efficient and relevant service?

If you can find that way you certainly have a future in a Web 2.0.

If the business can do it the tools are there to support this approach to mass customisation as has never been possible before.