The internet and mobile device technology has changed the world by giving instant access to nearly all information and a voice to every person. The postal system is nearing collapse, news publications and advertising agencies are folding daily while free social media is being used to build virtual communities, impact elections and give a voice to revolutions. 3-D printing will be bringing even greater shifts in what we consider normal. Technology’s transformation of long held paradigms will continue to unfold while business leaders scramble to adapt.
One of the clearest shifts is the empowerment of the individual to choose what they want as well as when and how they want it. To say this has a radical impact on business is an understatement. Before the Human Age, businesses and media outlets could dictate what you knew and how you’d receive that information. They were in control. Corporate interests were the primary focus and to be honest, they didn’t really need to care about the personal wants or needs of the customer. Now that the customer can edit out ads, eliminate information overload based on their personal preferences, easily find competitors and broadcast publicly their dissatisfaction with any aspect of their experience with you, the power shifts dramatically to the customer. Suddenly, the individual is king while corporate kingdoms are dissolving overnight.
One of the most amazing aspects of this new dynamic is the return of humanity. Since the customer has the power, the business world is now forced to care. The corporate and business world must prove they genuinely care about the customer, the community, the earth, human rights, etc, because the individual now has: 1) information, 2) options and 3) a very public voice.
Material needs represent only a part of basic life requirements. To be a fulfilled human, we must address our emotions, hopes, values and greater purposes. Businesses who are able to figure that out, adapt and communicate it in time will be the truly sustainable businesses of the future.