The Most Exciting Time in the History of the Planet to be in Business

A New Moment in History.

This is the most exciting time to be in business in the history of the planet. We are experiencing a sea change that impacts businesses today in ways unlike any we have ever seen before, ways that provide a once in a lifetime opportunity. The speed and magnitude of the change is unprecedented. The role of information and the Internet – ubiquitous, always on, always interconnected information – has fundamentally changed the way firms compete and win. To illustrate, think of the following:

Just 4 years ago, RIM (now Blackberry) had a higher market share of the smart phone market than Apple and Samsung combined. Today, its market share is less than 5% and is trying desperately to stave off bankruptcy.[1] Such rapid change is unprecedented.

The Renaissance. The Industrial Revolution.  We look back on periods of expansion and imagine them as exciting times with world-expanding possibilities where giants of culture and titans of industry built legends.

Michelangelo. Da Vinci. Vanderbilt. Rockefeller.  

At some point in the future, people will all look back on today and view this as the perhaps the greatest period of expansion and opportunity in the history of the planet – a time like no other to be in business. Today is the most exciting time in the history of the planet to be in business, to be in science, bar none

To understand why, think back to the early days of the Internet and the “dot.com” period of the late 1990’s. The claim then was that the Internet would transform our lives, that instant communication such as e-mail would transform our productivity. However, while many worked harder with 24/7 availability, the impact on innovation, productivity and opportunity for most workers often didn’t mirror the hype and the hope.

One of the central reasons for this was that applications and users were often “stand alone”. That is, while we may create a Word document at our desk and e-mail it to a colleague, we needed to do it chained to a (Ethernet) wired desk. While we may calculate forecasts using an Excel spreadsheet or a SAS® database, the cells weren’t linked to other parts of the production process and all of our work at our desk wasn’t available and shared real time.

Interconnectedness. Ubiquity. Always-on. Mobility.

The combination of “interconnectedness”, “ubiquity”, “always on” and “mobility” has brought multiple devices, multiple forms of production, multiple platforms and huge data/analytical capabilities together in ways that has fundamentally transform business in ways we have never seen before and will probably not see again in our lifetime. This is a once in a many generation chance, a time where someone in a remote village can write an app that becomes a multi-billion dollar business, a time where someone writing code in a dorm room can become one of the richest people on the planet.

Jobs, Zuckerberg, Musk, Bezos, Brin, Schmidt, Gates.

Google was once “just” a search engine and now they are poised to dominate Internet search advertising, mobile phones, television, Internet provision, maps, the list goes on. We no longer exclusively rent hotel rooms through the usual hotel brands, but rent rooms or private apartments from AirBnB, we no longer hail taxis, but “rent” rides from companies such as Uber, we no longer own our cars, but we rent them as needed by the hour through Zipcar; the list goes on.  Where someone can take success in an online payment system (PayPal) and parlay that into space. Literally (just ask Elon Musk).

 


[1] Time, February 11, 2013, page 16.

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