I'm always interested when I read about how organisations can pivot and offer new products or services that don't initially appear to be a part of their core offer and yet eventually become really important to the company.
Apple is a great example. Known mostly for their laptops, tablets, and phones, they are rapidly moving into services. More and more customers are paying for iCloud services and their Apple Pay service is probably being expanded to offer buy-now-pay-later credit. A company known for hardware is increasingly making some serious revenue from services.
I read recently about Paul Fletcher leaving the British Computer Society and joining Nominet and I was thinking along similar lines.
The British Computer Society is the Chartered Institute for IT in the UK. They host events, publish research, and generally engage in establishing standards for the IT industry. They have been around for as long as I can remember and have always offered the same mix of research and events for members.
But when Paul Fletcher led the organisation they started offering new services, like digital apprenticeships. This took their core expertise and network throughout the IT industry and created a highly innovative way to leverage that platform. Young people entering the technology industry could use the BCS service to connect to companies offering digital apprenticeships. In tandem companies involved could use the BCS connection to ensure that standards were honoured - many very poor apprenticeships in the UK should actually be renamed work experience.
The BCS turned itself from a traditional networking and standards organisation into a vital pathway for young talent to enter the industry.
Now Paul is leading Nominet and I can see several similar opportunities. On the surface, Nominet just registers all the UK Internet domain names - that's any address including UK, like co.uk or org.uk. There are almost 11 million registered domains in the UK, so the focus is ensuring all those addresses work when web users enter an address on their browser.
But the web is no longer just somewhere you check the news and weather. It now includes critical infrastructure that can influence how we live our lives. The American government recently charged Russian state hackers with damage to the energy and power transmission systems in 135 different countries. We now rely on the Internet to safely manage our power systems, our financial system, and the government.
I think that a service like Nominet can be transformed from a registry into the heart of the UK response to cybersecurity - in the same way that the BCS used their connections and industry knowledge to move from events and research into practical apprenticeships that create real jobs.
Online trust and safety is often presumed to focus on social networks - protecting users from dangerous or offensive content uploaded by other users. I think there is a a different layer where trust and safety is based in the network itself. We need to know that our Internet infrastructure is secure, because if it is not then how can retailers plan their future, or banks guarantee transactions. The safety of the Internet underpins every other online service and organisations like Nominet are at the heart of this online future.
Let me know what you think about how various organisations can reinvent their services to be more practical or useful. Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.