The internet has affected the lives of every single human being on this planet. Even those who don’t yet have access to the hardware (more people have access to a mobile phone than to clean drinking water) will feel its impact on the wages they earn, the things they buy and their aspirations and beliefs. Any new business needs a clear understanding of what the internet is already doing as well as an understanding of what it might be doing in five years’ time.
The Convenience Culture
The internet has created a generation of people who want everything, now. Employers want total dedication, while individuals crave consumer merchandise and leisure time packed with memorable activity. With so many demands on their time, consumers crave convenience like never before. This has led to the meteoric rise of convenient web-based companies. Uber has given city dwellers the ability to hail a cab with ease and security. And, not only has it forced prices down, it’s to-the-minute updates mean people aren’t left waiting; Airbnb has slashed the cost of city accommodation across the globe and generated income for millions of individuals; the UK’s hungryhouse is one of the most recognized takeout apps in the world. It has transformed the way people think about takeout food and it’s something that, for many, has become a regular part of the weekly diet.
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest are the digital billboards of the 21st Century. Small businesses can compete with larger ones despite not having their resources or finances. Businesses no longer need imposing physical locations in order to market and sell their products and services. Essentially, the internet is the world’s shop window and it’s open 24/7.
How much time used to be spent writing letters and travelling to meetings? Telecommuting: groupware, virtual private networks, conference calling, videoconferencing have transformed business communications. This speed of communication has resulted in huge financial savings and increased productivity.
Any online company or business with an online presence is a global enterprise.Consequently, all businesses need to think globally and forge international relationships, attracting both new vendors and new customers. It is now possible for businesses to set up an export system without having to go through a network of distributors.
The Avalanche of Technology
The sophistication of the internet continues to develop at a frenetic pace, but this is only a fraction of the avalanche of technology and the survival of any business will depend on its ability to stay ahead. There’s not a mind on the planet that knows exactly which way things will go but any prudent business will be monitoring the internet for early indications.Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality devices will impact businesses such as gaming and gambling as the technology develops. The production of more and more smart devices will produce a data revolution, the implications of which are unclear. The development of Artificial Intelligence may soon mean that a large part of business management is performed by a bot, leaving the humans free to focus on that blue sky thinking at which we’re so good.