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By Fiona Czerniawska, Gavin Potter (auth.)

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1. In the absence of accepted barriers to entry and government regulation, industries will converge (some are already doing so) Information does not recognise national boundaries but walks unquestioned through accepted check-points and customs halls. Similarly, it crosses the traditional divide between industries without a backward glance, just as it can flow around an organisation without regard to the niceties of departmental responsibilities. It is therefore inevitable that, the more that companies and economies become virtual, the less will THE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF INFORMATION 35 they be able to maintain the internal distinctions to which they are accustomed.

If we only have a limited amount of information, the actions we can take are similarly circumscribed. If we have problems making use of the collective knowledge of our organisations, it is usually blamed on the fact that we do not get hold of knowledge soon enough, or that the process of capturing knowledge is fraught with difficulties, the cultural barriers to knowledgesharing for example. The argument should, however, also be considered in reverse: perhaps the problem is that we get hold of what we think of as ‘knowledge’ too early on.

This definition represents a significant departure; information is not just a ‘representation’ of reality. In other words, information is no longer about something – it is ‘something’. That ‘something’ has a value, and the fact that the value can be exploited is one of the underlying themes of this book. More than a substitute This is perhaps the most important insight today in thinking about information, but it is one that is only just being accepted and is even more rarely exploited. Information can be manipulated in ways that are impossible with physical objects, giving it enormous value.

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