Give Us Freedom! Lessons for Corporate America

American Flag

In America, we relish our freedom. Many early European settlers to America were seeking freedom to live a Godly life, one they were not able to freely and openly live in Europe. Our nation’s founders fought to enshrine the freedom those early settlers came in search of when our nation was formed.

The formation of our country illustrates what happens when people are not allowed to pursue a course they firmly believe in. Despite strong historical ties, battles were fought, lives were lost, and ultimately America and Britain parted ways.

As I thought about independence this weekend, and the independence our forefathers fought for, the loss of true independence to pursue our own course struck me. Our loss of independence is not only from government. It also comes from corporations looking to exert control over the market and their customers to increase market share, and a slow revolt is following.

In the enterprise software market, we see the rise of SaaS or Anything-as-a-Service offerings competing with traditional enterprise providers. These companies offer cost efficiency, but more importantly, they give customers the freedom to quickly adapt to their market.

Said another way, the Anything-as-a-Service model gives customers the freedom they need to pursue the best course for their business.

We see this change playing out today.

  • In late 2009, Bob Evans, then with Information Week, wrote an open letter to Larry Ellison, taking Oracle to task for not allowing companies the freedom to control their own expense structures.
  • Last year, HP was rumored to be moving from Oracle CRM to Salesforce.com.
  • Amazon and other cloud-based providers have upended traditional hosting and development models, allowing companies to add and remove traditional infrastructure resources as needed.

Companies that put their customers in control are winning market share at the expense of those that look to exert control and restrict the freedom of their clients. With a long-term view, freedom to choose is winning over lock in models. And you can be sure that there will be additional revolutions, ones that put still more control in the hands of customers because we desire the freedom to pursue the path we believe is right for us and for our businesses.

How much better would it be for companies to be their customer’s first choice, every day? To lock in a customer with an unmatched offering for their needs? To compete every day in a free marketplace without artificial impediments to choice?

Your Turn
Can capitalism and customer freedom be complimentary, or are they at odds in any market where companies can exert control? Share your opinion in the comments below or with me on Twitter.

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About Eric Wittlake

I am a digital and B2B marketer with a background in online media and analytics. I work with B2B clients on media and integrated marketing programs at Babcock & Jenkins. You can connect with me on Twitter at @wittlake or in the comments here on my B2B Digital Marketing blog.