At the dawn of man, when we were running around in loin cloths and fighting off wild animals – years before towns and cities, we were using stones, rocks and wood to make our lives easier and more efficient. Whether it be for hunting, warmth, defence or counting (before the number system it is believed people may have assigned a rock to each domesticated animal; moving them from one pile to another to know if all where in their pen or not), we made by with what we had. After a while, man learnt to control fire more efficiently, and from it could remove metals from the rock, and so was born the Bronze Age. We could build more impressive structures, fight and hunt more efficiently and create beautiful artwork that still remains today. One of the most important things too was the creation of coin, which drove commerce and is probably the driving factor behind all the subsequent advancements we have experienced since then. And while the advancements were huge for the time – what humans are doing now will probably considered magic only 300 years ago, let alone 30 000. This is the digital age, and it is wonderfully scary.
Saying this, I would like to try and tie it in to how the digital age is affecting commerce. We first need to understand that money is now over 98% digital – there are no bronze or copper coins which we can use to trade, relying on behemoth corporations who control the flow and direction of it all. Most vendors are trading online to some extent and it is only going to get more and more prominent as time goes on. It is the next massive Darwinian cull with businesses – the ones who can be found in search engines will be the most likely to survive, the ones who aren’t are the most likely to die off in the night, their yawp heard by other ancient businesses who also thought the idea of a website was just another added expense that they didn’t need (Check this article to drive home how important a website is to a business).
I would also like to use this opportunity to try and predict the future and how I think businesses can adapt now in order to survive. To start with, voice search is where everything is going to be. With the rise of Alexa, Siri and Cortona – and every device in the house connected to the internet in one way or another; from your fridge that can order food when you’re running low, to a washing machine that orders powder specialising in the type of dirt you get on your favourite dressing gown, to a dressing table that tells you the weather and orders you the latest Mac makeup; to even a closet mirror that works out your body shape and size and makes recommendations on what you should be wearing and order new ones for you – traditional search as we know it will be dead. The real question is where the orders will be coming from, and I think we know the answer to that already. Ads. I think things will get to the point where there will literally be no room in the market for small businesses to be able to compete due to the lack of exposure they are getting. If their mega corporation competitor is in the home, mind and everyday activities of people – especially controlling the information to the extent that they become consumer zombies, I don’t know what is going to happen to the B2C industry in the next 200 years. Will there even be jobs left, as the mega corps work to up profits, streamline efficiency with robots and exploit everything they can in order to make a success of only themselves – it will be interesting to see where the world goes from there. Maybe they will read this blog post too, but I’m not holding my breath. Good luck to them anyway.