Infinite Possibility: Creating Customer Value on the Digital Frontier


Joseph Pine and Jim Gilmore’s classic The Experience Economy identified a seismic shift in the business world: to set yourself apart from your competition, you need to stage experiences—memorable events that engage people in inherently personal ways. But as consumers increasingly experience the world through their digital gadgets, companies still only scratch the surface of technology-infused experiences. So Pine and coauthor Kim Korn show you how to create new value for your ...

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Joseph Pine and Jim Gilmore’s classic The Experience Economy identified a seismic shift in the business world: to set yourself apart from your competition, you need to stage experiences—memorable events that engage people in inherently personal ways. But as consumers increasingly experience the world through their digital gadgets, companies still only scratch the surface of technology-infused experiences. So Pine and coauthor Kim Korn show you how to create new value for your customers with offerings that fuse the real and the virtual.

Think of the Xbox Kinect, which combines virtual video games with a powerful physical dimension—you play by moving your own body; new apps that, when you point your smartphone camera at a real street, overlay digital information about the scene onto the image; and virtual dashboards that track the real world, moment by moment.

Digital technology offers limitless opportunities—you really can create anything you want—but real-world experiences have a richness that virtual ones do not. So how can you use the best of both? How do you make sense of such infinite possibility? What kinds of experiences can you create? Which ones should you offer?

In Infinite Possibility Pine and Korn provide a profound new tool geared to exploring and exploiting the digital frontier. They delineate eight different realms of experience encompassing various aspects of Reality and Virtuality and, using scores of examples, show how innovative companies operate within and across each realm to create extraordinary customer value.

Follow them out onto the digital frontier to discover the opportunities that abound for your business.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Using an ingenious combination of visual imagination and hard logic, Pine and Korn explore and map eight new largely undiscovered digital realms, ripe for development. They take us on a mesmerizing journey to new fields where tomorrow’s dreams will prosper. Infinite Possibility will be to digital experience design what Columbus’s voyage was to the New World. Buy this book: it is your field guide to the future of digital imagination.”
—Bob Rogers, founder, BRC Imagination Arts

“This book will inspire out-of-the-box thinking for anyone looking to do it differently or better. Infinite Possibility is a must-read and a great vision for technology intersecting with our five senses to create experiences consumers will want.”
—Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association

“If you think your company doesn’t need to worry about Virtuality, think again. You should be very worried. Pine and Korn take you on an amazing journey from Reality to Virtuality and stop at all the best corners along the way. Infinite Possibility provides an extremely robust framework to help you grasp the concepts and gives practical guidance on how any organization can make it happen right now.”
—Chris Parker, Senior Vice President and CIO, LeasePlan Corporation

“I have always been amazed by how Joe Pine thinks. Here, with coauthor Kim Korn, he provides an entirely new lens to view—and experience—the world, guiding us beyond Reality to realms of infinite possibility.”
—Sonia Rhodes, Vice President, Customer Strategy, Sharp HealthCare

“The Experience Economy helped us construct our business model to create value with our virtual offerings. Now, Infinite Possibility provides a great tool to help us discover new areas to explore as Virtuality increasingly permeates Reality. Fulfilling our purpose ‘To create virtual worlds more meaningful than real life’ feels much less of a stretch than it did before!”
—Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO, CCP (developer of EVE Online)

“Pine and Korn have brilliantly and cohesively mapped out the realms of the real and the virtual in a way that is both insightful and intuitive. This new multidimensional way of looking at the world and locating business opportunities will determine who will best seize the infinite possibility that still exists at the fringes of the real and the virtual.”
—Risto Nieminen, President and CEO, Veikkaus Oy (Finnish National Lottery)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605095639
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2011
  • Series: Bk Business Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 420,145
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

B. Joseph Pine II is an author, speaker, and management advisor to Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike. He is the coauthor of The Experience Economy and Authenticity and the author of Mass Customization.

Kim C. Korn is a management practitioner turned author, speaker, and management advisor. As founder of Business Architecture Inc., he helps companies unlock their potential to thrive indefinitely by creating ever-greater value.

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Read an Excerpt


By B. Joseph Pine II Kim C. Korn

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 B. Joseph Pine II and Kim C. Korn
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-60509-563-9

Chapter One


Recall the maps of old where less-than-intrepid mapmakers marked unexplored territory with the words terra incognita: unknown land. This boundary, usually indistinct, marked the known frontier and separated it from the unexplored—that which was beyond our knowledge. Recall also that apprehensive phrase "Here be dragons" accompanied by drawings of fearsome beasts thought perhaps to inhabit such territories, providing a clear warning (or at least an expression of doubt and fear) of what lies beyond. It is hard to imagine such a need today, so thoroughly have we explored the earth and mapped it out (save perhaps the deep, dark depths of the sea, where—who knows?—fearsome creatures may still prowl).

A frontier remains, however. The digital frontier. Comprised of zeros and of ones, it leads us—unlike the earth bound frontier of old—to places entirely of our own making. It lies at the boundary of our imagination, where beyond it stretches out entire worlds not just to be explored but to be created! Think of what lies beyond the digital frontier as (if you'll excuse a slight abuse of linguistics) "cosmos incogniti," a phrase we believe captures the essence of the possibilities that exist at the intersection of technology and the fertile ground of the mind's eye: "worlds unknown."

Should a modern-day cartographer label cosmos incogniti with an accompanying descriptor, surely it would be "Here be opportunity!" For at the digital frontier lay not dragons of doubt but new and wondrous offerings that create customer value by fusing the real and the virtual.

But what tool would such a cartographer use to chart these new worlds and indicate in which direction people could find such opportunities? A simple map would be grossly inadequate to capture the possibilities. A single globe could never represent the fact that digital technology not only enables new opportunities, new offerings, and new value but can do so by creating entire new three-dimensional worlds, virtual though they may be—worlds of exploration, conquest, artistry, and just plain new fun. And even then such worlds represent just a small fraction of possibility. For again the digital frontier opens not to fixed country you may discover and settle but to original offerings you must imagine and create. It differs also in the number of explorers vying for such opportunities. These explorers number not in the handfuls but in the thousands and tens of thousands—companies rapidly pushing forward the boundary of the frontier as they innovate new offerings that customers value. There are no limits to a frontier such as this, for there are no limits to our imagination. Before us lies infinite possibility—if only we had a tool to adequately chart it.

That is the aim of this book. We present a new tool geared to the task of exploring the cosmos incogniti of our imagination. This guiding tool, or framework, is not as easily read as a map, nor as representational as a globe. It does not provide you with a detailed description of the lay of the land, nor a precise set of coordinates from which to set off . How can it with a boundary as fluid as the imagination, with unexplored territory as vast as human creativity? But like a map in the hands of explorers of old, this framework illustrates what we know today while pointing to the unknown worlds of opportunity, in order to give form, content, and intentionality to your explorations. Its vital foundation and dynamic architecture provoke inexhaustible discovery and idea generation. And its terminology provides you with a vocabulary for understanding the opportunities and for communicating them with colleagues, collaborators, and customers.

We recognize that readers may be veteran explorers well versed in digital technology or beginners seeking new ways of creating value. Therefore, we travel in this chapter at a pace that gives all explorers a chance to adapt to the atmosphere, to grow step-by-step into an understanding of the language, the meaning of the core concepts, the robustness of its dimensions, and the implications of the framework as a whole. We will deepen our understanding in successive chapters that dive into the framework to discover its fullness, and then we will provide you with approaches for applying the framework to your own company, in your own circumstances, for your own customers, so that you can chart the meaningful, substantive ways of creating value for your own business.

We stand on a platform poised to launch into an exploration of cosmos incogniti. It promises to breathe into existence extraordinary offerings once imagined only as fiction but now truly at our fingertips. Possibility abounds. Territory may stretch before us without limit, but value lies within our reach. Here be opportunity!

The Known Universe

To introduce the framework that explicates the unknown worlds lying beyond the digital frontier, let us first understand the nature of cosmos cognitus, the universe we know and in which all reality exists—particularly as it applies to and impacts on business. To do that, let us revisit Stan Davis' classic business book Future Perfect (as applicable today as when he wrote it over two de cades ago). Davis expressed the inspiration for his thinking this way: "A basic progression governs the evolution of management in all market economies: fundamental properties of the universe are transformed into scientific understanding, then developed into new technologies, which are applied to create products and ser vices for business, which then ultimately define our models of organization." He goes on to write:

These new models first get articulated in our scientific and technological understanding of how the universe works. My intention in this book is to give new meaning to time, space, and matter in shaping tomorrow's business and organization. In the industrial economy managers considered time, space, and matter as constraints, whereas in the new economy they will come to think of them as resources. This will require profound transformations in the way we think about time, space, and matter. Just as the scientific shift from the mechanistic age of Newton to the holistic age of Einstein affected notions of what was meant by time, space, and matter, these new notions in turn will affect the managerial transformation from an industrial mindset to a fundamentally new one.

That new economy, the Experience Economy, is now here. As we create new experience offerings, we can see more clearly the way in which the universal dimensions of time, space, and matter shape the opportunities businesses have today.

These three dimensions comprise the known universe and come together as a true trinity to fashion the entirety of physical reality. As represented in Figure 1.1, all experience consists of objects made of matter (physical entities, including the humans doing the experiencing and the sensory stimuli they experience) that move in time (the measure of change and therefore of experiencing) and across space (the background source and context of everything that is experienced).

One of the "profound transformations" Davis introduces in how we think about these dimensions is "No-Matter," the title of a chapter in which he discusses how "in the new economy, the value added will come increasingly from intangibles ... whose importance does not lie in their material existence." Think of how much of the value of economic offerings has shift ed over the past century from the tangible (goods) to the intangible (ser vices) and on to the ephemeral (experiences). Further, think of how the design, production, marketing, and distribution of each kind of offering (commodities included) have all become more and more digitized over the past few de cades, so that today there is scarcely a company of any size almost anywhere in the world that does not use computers at some stage of its processes, if not at the very heart of everything it does. If you could weigh the material component of all offerings, think how much higher the ratio of GDP to the mass required to produce it is today than in our industrial past. To use the distinction made famous by Nicholas Negroponte, the founding director of the MIT Media Lab, in his book Being Digital, Matter and No-Matter are about atoms and bits, about that which has materiality and resides in the physical world and that which has no materiality and resides within the zeros and ones of digital technology.

If No- Matter exists, it follows there must be No-Space, where experiences are not real but virtual; they do not take place in the physical world but happen virtually, in a place (or world) that does not really exist. The primary activity instead happens on (or in) a screen of some sort—movie, TV, PC, tablet, PDA, smartphone, watch, headset, goggles, or glasses, as well as windshield, wall, or anything else on which an image could be projected (including the retina itself once projectors become small enough). Although virtual experiences still happen inside of us, in our mind's eye, the place conjured within the mind is not the same one in which our physical body resides.

And if there is No-Matter and No-Space, then there must be No-Time, where the nature of the experience is no longer tied to actual time—the moment-by-moment unspooling of synchronous events in the linear, sequential order of time as it exists in the real world. Rather, it becomes autonomous, in de pen dent of actual time, whether by being nonlinear, asynchronous, nonchronological, or transient, by shifting into the past or future, by slowing down, speeding up, or otherwise playing with one's awareness of time, or by any other way in which an experience creates a distinct, disparate sense of time (or timelessness) that does not truly exist.

Each dimension, in other words, has a positive side and a negative side (not in any moral sense, of course, but in the mathematical or logical sense), each one the opposite of the other. The original axes of Time, Space, and Matter all extend through the origin (the point in the middle of Figure 1.1 where they all intersect) to open up new ways of experiencing—and therefore of creating value in your business. As seen in Figure 1.2, which we have re oriented graphically to emphasize the new possibilities inherent in our logical extensions, the three fundamental dimensions of the universe decompose into six variables—Time and No-Time, Space and No-Space, Matter and No-Matter. These together comprise a 2 x 2 x 2 matrix, with each pairing two sides of the same coin (or two variables lying along the same dimension in this case). Since 2 x 2 x 2 = 8, this matrix delineates eight distinct universes, or realms of experiences (within which lie many worlds, or cosmos, to be discovered). Because "Octoverse" seems awfully clunky (not to mention conjuring connotations of the fearsome creatures prowling the depths of the sea on the maps of old), let's borrow a term from the discipline of cosmology that inspired this framework and call it the Multiverse.

The Unfamiliar Multiverse

This seems the best title for it, as this framework encompasses the multiple ways for when [Time [??] No-Time] experiences happen, where [Space [??] No-Space] they occur, and what [Matter [??] No-Matter] they act on. The known universe of physical experiences [Time – Space – Matter] is just one of the octants within the Multiverse. Reality, as it seems most appropriate to call it, is of course the realm with which we are most familiar and within which most innovation still occurs. We will not ignore Reality, but we will focus on the seven other realms vitalized by the advent of digital technology. These realms are less known, not as well understood, more difficult to apply, and therefore abounding with possibility.

Infinite possibility, as a matter of fact, for the Multiverse furnishes the tool we need to explore the cosmos incogniti of our imagination. It helps us make sense of our explorations by showing us how to create offerings on the digital frontier that customers value.

Figure 1.3 visually depicts this framework, revealing the complete Multiverse and labeling each octant. Let us delineate the exact nature of each, realm by realm in logical sequence, to ensure every reader understands what is going on in this admittedly somewhat complex 2 x 2 x 2 framework:

Each and every combination of the variables yields a distinct realm. Some are familiar, some intriguing, and some downright strange. But all ready to be explored.

Although we will more fully describe each experience realm in the succeeding chapters, here we wish only to give you a short preview of where we're heading. To highlight the distinctions between realms, we'll begin with the anchors of Reality and Virtuality, and then go on to introduce successive realms followed by their polar opposites. Note how in each case here we associate each realm with a particular visual icon (as shown in Figure 1.4) that we believe best captures its essence. We use these icons throughout the book, albeit sparingly, to make it easy for you to remember quickly and easily what each realm is about (while recognizing, too, that every realm encompasses experiences far beyond what can be represented by these small icons).

A Quick Tour of the Multiverse

Reality, of course, consists of the variables [Time – Space – Matter] or, as an equivalent way of looking at it, [actual, real, atoms]. Reality requires the least explanation of all the realms, for we experience it through the age-old medium of real life, where the sheer physicality of the experience reigns supreme. Think of such quintessential experiences as taking a walk in the woods, dining with family or friends, watching a sunset from a balcony, going to a raucous rock concert, skiing down a mountain, or playing a round of golf. And then think in each case of how the experience is situated in a particular point in time, set apart from what comes before and what happens after; how the specific place (in space) impacts the experience and affects its very nature; and what physical objects support and enhance the experience. Even as you explore the other seven realms for the new opportunities they provide, never forget the richness of Reality.

Virtuality lies exactly opposite Reality in the realm of [No-Time – No-Space – No-Matter], consisting of [autonomous – virtual – bits]. Quintessential Virtuality experiences—also now very familiar to nearly all of us—include playing computer games, exploring virtual worlds, probing real-world simulations, connecting via social media, or even just surfing the World Wide Web. They are not bound to a particular time or place, with the physical aspect of all activity receding away to a vanishing point. Yes, of course, anyone having a Virtuality experience resides in some physical place, at a particular point in time, using a material keyboard and mouse (or other interaction devices), but these are all irrelevant—immaterial to the experience unfolding within the mind in reaction to the digital information displayed in front of the eyes (as well as sound waves hitting the ears). So although all Virtuality experiences really sit atop Reality, for the purposes of exploring the digital frontier we will generally ignore this aspect of it to concentrate on using No-Time, No-Space, and No-Matter as resources for creating customer value.

These two realms, then, anchor the Multiverse. Reality is grounded firmly in our physical universe of [Time – Space – Matter], with Virtuality residing ethereally in the immaterial realm of [No-Time – No-Space – No-Matter]. Each could be labeled any number of ways. Reality could be called the Known Universe, the Real World, the Physical World, or a number of other commonplace names, whereas Virtuality could similarly be called the Virtual World (or Worlds), Virtual Reality, the Metaverse, and so forth. We decided the parallelism of the chosen words works best, for then the name of each of the other octants can relate directly to the two anchors. The names of each realm on the right half of the framework—the four revolving around the real Space axis and thereby rooted in physical Reality—therefore all denote their Reality-based nature, whereas the names of each realm on the left half of the framework—the four revolving around the virtual No-Space axis, embedded in immaterial Virtuality— denote their Virtuality-based nature.


Excerpted from infinite POSSIBILITY by B. Joseph Pine II Kim C. Korn Copyright © 2011 by B. Joseph Pine II and Kim C. Korn. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Innovation on the Digital Frontier
Chapter 1 Cosmos Incognitae: Introducing the Multiverse
Chapter 2 Reality: Presenting the Richest of Experiences
Chapter 3 Augmented Reality: Enhancing the World around Us
Chapter 4 Alternate Reality: Creating an Alternate View of the Real World
Chapter 5 Warped Reality: Playing with Time
Chapter 6 Virtuality: Crafting the Most Imaginative of Experiences
Chapter 7 Augmented Virtuality: Bringing the Material into the Virtual
Chapter 8 Physical Virtuality: Instantiating the Virtual in the Material
Chapter 9 Mirrored Virtuality: Absorbing the Real World into the Virtual
Chapter 10 Multiverse Excursion: Reaching through the Realms
Chapter 11 Offering Depiction: Varying the Variables
Chapter 12 Third Spaces: Fusing the Real and the Virtual
Chapter 13 From Design to Deployment: Act into the Future
Afterword To Infinity and Beyond

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