Information is power, and the Internet has made the biggest and fastest distribution of information in the history of mankind. This has had a profound effect on the way businesses work, with power shifting from the companies itself to the customers. This is forcing the companies to stop ignoring the annoying thing called customer, and start becoming customer-oriented.
The latest most important example of this transformation is the music label EMI, which made the announcement to begin selling DRM-free music through Apple’s iTunes online store. It is an incredible change of approach from a company that once supported the suing and jailing of its very own customers, teenagers, for downloading illegal music. Now, instead of shutting down the annoying customer and putting him in jail, EMI has actually listened to it and offer what it has been screaming for.
And it is a very important change, EMI is setting the way for others to follow. So could this mean the end of DRM? I certainly hope so, and not only in the online music business but overall in every industry. The movie industry has proved that copy control systems on DVDs have only but annoyed legitimate customers, and that hackers have been able to break the locks. And now the new movie formats (Blueray and HD-DVD) face the same future, with its AAC protection system hacked within one week of being updated.
But this change in focus towards the customer is not only happening in the digital economy, but every (or almost every) industry needs to rethink their relationship towards their client. Failing to do so could prove to be costly.