We are experiencing what some would call a "Revolution." Actually, what we are experiencing is an "Evolution" of extraordinary magnitude. In order to understand were we are going, let's begin by taking a quick look at where we've been.
The first half of the 20th century was an absolute disaster in human affairs. A cataclysm. We had the first world war, the great depression, the second world war and the rise of the communist nation. Each one of these forces tore the world apart at the seams. We also threw up barriers to human affairs which include:
- Political Barriers
- Trade Barriers
- Transportation Barriers
- Communication Barriers
These barriers divided people and nations.
The second half of the 20th century, we began to shift. Shift away from the first 50 years. It started with trade barriers. We began to globalize the planet. Cooperation and coordination of effort was extended across national boundaries. Next came transportation barriers. Technology and a more open playing field created access to logistics that were previously not possible. With the fall of the Berlin wall, political barriers have fallen thru the floor.
This leads us to now -- the 21st century. For the first time in human history, growth has been extended to almost all regions of the world. Take China for instance. Since 1978, shortly after the death of Mao Zedong (1976), the growth rate of China has increased 10% year over year -- every year. No where in history have so many people been lifted out of poverty. India is another example with 6% growth per year since 1990. The reason is that the barriers that kept these countries in poverty (access to markets & logistics) no longer exist. This has created a localized economy on a global scale.
Communication Barriers Overcome
The web did not cause this epic shift in global human affairs. But the importance of it cannot be overlooked. What was once only possible for governments and large corporations (communicate, collaborate and coordinate globally) is now easily done at the individual level -- virtually free. This has created an environment of what I like to call "global localization." There are no barriers to sharing data, publishing data, building relationships and creating a global network to coordinate effort. It is an environment that has, and will continue to, turn the balance of commerce on its head.
Is Business 3.o too cliche?
Whatever you want to call it, we are coming full circle. In the beginning, we participated in commerce at the local level. You did business with the people you knew. Business was done on a relationship level. Then along came the automobile and communication devices. By the time the television came along, we were all exposed to mass advertising and mass manufacturing. The whole notion of "brand" was to develop a relationship with a product where we once relied on relationships with individuals. Well here we are in the "relationship age." Where your ability to succeed has more to do with orchestrating effort thru your network or connections. TV advertising, or advertising in general, is in a fluid state of disarray. People want to do business with other people again -- not brands. The big will get smaller and the small get bigger. Say goodbye to institutional friction. We will witness the rise of the individual. We've come full circle folks!
A World Without Barriers
So why do we call it a "Flat World?" The world is being referred as a flat world, thanks to Tom Friedman’s book The World Is Flat. The world is now so well connected with the ubiquity of technology in all areas which gives you, me, all of us the power to collaborate, coordinate, produce and distribute seamlessly across borders, and cultural and language divides. In a flat world, everything of value is now connected -- no more barriers.
Welcome To Our Flat World -- The Good News
For connected individuals and forward-thinking corporations who are able to embrace change, there has never been a time where we've had more opportunity. There is little need for the organizational system as we once knew it. The power to create a global network to collaborate and coordinate effort is seamless and typical organizational structure just gets in the way of productivity. If organizations are able to recognize this and embrace this, there can be little doubt that operational efficiencies can be extended exponentially.
Welcome To Our Flat World -- The Bad News
In a flat world, there are connected individuals and disconnected individuals. Unfortunately, this gap can only widen. To date, there are about 1.2 billion connected individuals. We are the conceptual and technical class. Our opportunity holds no bounds. However, for the disconnected individuals, there is a barrier being constructed. Technology changes is changing so fast that it has the possibility to create another sad state of human affairs. I am hopeful though. With the ubiquity of technology, the speed at which it has spread in the last decade and the low cost of connectivity, I cannot image that we will not have a connected world -- one where knowledge is freely shared, data is relational and accessible and where the human spirit and innovation can come together to solve many of the world's problems (and, of course, create new ones).
So What's Next?
Who knows. But, we are all on this ride together -- so let's make it happen together. This is my blog. It's about the new world of commerce, marketing and media. It's about the drastic shift we are all experiencing. It's about creativity, digital media, personal branding and social media. It is about how to harness our power to create networks of individuals, engage and influence each other. It's about embracing this flat world we all live in -- together. I hope you'll be here with me for the ride.
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