Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs. Don Tapscott, Alex Lowy, David Ticoll. Harvard Business Review Press.

Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs Book Cover Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs
Don Tapscott, Alex Lowy, David Ticoll
Harvard Business Review Press
May 2000

Schwab, eBay, Cisco, MP3, Linux, and dozens of other companies have transformed the rules of competition in their industries, seemingly overnight. They hijacked long-entrenched industry leaders with revolutionary offerings that surprised and delighted customers. These transformers could not and did not act alone; partners enable them to move with stealth, speed, agility, and force. Such teams of innovators pioneered the business web, or “b-web” – the new platform for competition in the twenty-first century. B-Web’s – partner networks of producers, service providers, suppliers, infrastructure companies, and customers linked via digital channels – are destroying the firm as we have known it and generating wealth in entirely new ways.

In Digital Capital, information-age visionaries Don Tapscott, David Ticoll, and Alex Lowy describe and explain the b-web phenomenon and the forces behind its emergence. Drawing on three years of multimillion-dollar research into hundreds of b-webs as diverse as the Microsoft Alliance and the automotive industry, the authors illuminate the five distinct types of b-web now in play: Agoras, Aggregations, Value Chains, Alliances, and Distributive Networks. Punctuating their analysis with a rich set of case studies, they provide the definitive guide to business-model innovation in the digital economy.

The book includes:

  • The untold real story behind the story on successes like eBay, Cisco, Linux, Schwab, and Priceline
  • Positioning and analysis of emergent e-businesses like Webvan, OptiMark, AT&T Solutions, and Enron
  • A step-by-step process for b-web strategy design
  • A new approach to maximizing organizational effectiveness in a multi-enterprise environment
  • The “A,B,C,D,E’s” of marketing – air to the “four P’s” of the industrial age
  • Guidelines for deciding whether to hire, buy, or partner a needed capability
  • A new set of lenses for viewing the stock market

The authors warn that participation in b-webs is not optional. To encounter and satisfy the digital customer, firms must lead or partner in one or more of these new business networks. While no single path leads to b-web success, businesses will adopt effective b-web strategies –or they will simply fade away.

Sustaining advantage in the digital economy demands more than superficial actions like attracting “eyeballs,” launching a hot IPO, following “new rules,” building a cool Web site, or even just focusing on customers. In Digital Capital we finally have a book that gets beyond whiz-bang clichés to today’s central issues of competitive strategy.

Don Tapscott is author of the international best-sellers The Digital Economy and Growing Up Digital. With David Ticoll and Alex Lowy, he also co-edited Blueprint to the Digital Economy. Tapscott is chairman, David Ticoll is CEO, and Alex Lowy is Managing Director of the Alliance for Converging Technologies (, an international research and consulting group that advises corporations and governments worldwide on strategy in the digital economy.