Many years ago, with the emergence of Internet and Dot Com companies, we saw the dawn of information age. People started to talk about how people with knowledge would rule the world. Millions of trans-ocean fiber optic cables were laid. Internet networks started to spread its tentacles across the surface of the earth. Knowledge Management (KM) was the big initiative in many large corporations. A lot of money being spent to create knowledge portals, experts and consultants were hired, new high paying posts, such as the Chief Information Officer (CIO), were created. However, the much-anticipated big waves have not arrived. Dot Com companies went burst. KM initiatives were scraped. Investors lost their fortune and people started to wonder how wrong we had been.
Nonetheless, we know that we have not seen the last of the Internet. The fiber optic cables remained intact. In fact, these cables have enable people from around the world to enjoy much cheaper Internet connection. In addition to that, with further advancement of technology, the networks went invisible. Wireless Internet started to roam the earth. New breeds of Internet based economic activities started to take shape. Social networking, web 2.0, infopreneur, affiliate marketing, viral marketing, and e-business have become widely known terms. One of the new marketing business emerged from the scene was the “Internet Marketing”.
Since then, Internet marketing has attracted many new players. Many have taken advantage of the new opportunity and make incredible amount of money. The fact that we can earn for living from the comfort of our home is very appealing indeed. However, Internet marketing experts have warned the people against the impression of making fast money. The business requires a lot of hard work and commitment. In fact, the failure rate of this business is very high just like any traditional business.
In a traditional product value chain, the manufacturers, marketers and distributors are paid due to their services in delivering value products to the consumers. These people are paid accordingly based on their contributions in delivering physical products to the customers. However, there is a group of people who have contributed their knowledge but may not be rightfully rewarded. Take a hypothetical example, A taught B the knowledge to run a business. B uses the knowledge to run a successful business and profited from it. In most cases, A will not be rewarded unless A is directly involved in the business. Hence, A as a knowledge worker is not rightfully rewarded.
However, we can see that it is changing right now. From online activities such as the Internet marketing, we can observe how knowledge economy takes shape. People who share knowledge are now being rewarded through Internet marketing activities. They have found the value chain of their own. It did not happen because of our meticulous plan; it evolved naturally as though it has a life of its own. No one is able to control the directions or the development. This is a good sign, as organic growth is usually more sustainable than artificial ones. A sustainable knowledge economy is indeed good news for the new knowledge workers, the Internet marketers whom we now call “infopreneurs”.
Inforpreneurs are the people who share and distribute knowledge to the world. Regardless of whether they create their own knowledge or simply taking it from someone else, they are helping people to learn. Their values are paid through advertisements; affiliate marketing, and subscriptions, perhaps many other forms. Hence, I consider inforpreneurs as a part of the contributors to the “value chain”, just like other distributors in the traditional processes.
I believe we still in the primitive stage of the information value chain. As the value chain evolved, we will be able to extend it further upstream to people who are not usually included in our mainstream value chain, for example, elderly people. Elderly people may not have the physical strength to contribute to the mainstream economy like they used to be. However, they have wealth knowledge that could be shared. As knowledge contributors, they need to be rightfully rewarded. In this way, we can extend the chain to enable wealth distribution all the way to the knowledge source. If the elderly people can use their knowledge as resources to gain financial revenue, they will not need to rely on their children or the government to support them during old age. This will be an effective way to resolve our problem about the aging society.