Connections are important, they create ideas and the transfer of information. They create opportunities for business. The United States Custom House in New York City, served that purpose from the revolutionary days up until the 20th century. It allowed the young US economy to be connected and develop industries such as textiles, whaling and cotton. Industries that are less important to the US now but were significant were the US was getting started.
The commercial internet is over twenty years old, from the point where Marc Andreessen developed the firstly web browser. The transformation of the internet in the last couple of years has been much faster than the first 15 years of the internet. Whether it’s the rise of social media networks or the advent of smartphones. We are seeing another rapid evolution of technology and its impact on business.
The sharing economy is becoming a ‘disruptive technology’, which includes companies such as: AirBnB, TaskRabbit and ZipCar. AirBnB was a company many people had not heard of until a couple of years ago. AirBnB believe that in 2013, they generated over $630m for the NYC economy and $2-300m for the economy in Paris.
This is a company that came out of nowhere. Over the summer in 2013, there were 200,000 rooms available and 400 castles available!
Hilton, one of the largest hotel chains available, has over 600,000 rooms available around the world. However, the big difference between the two is that AirBnB does not own a single room.
The rise of all the devices we all use, smartphones, PCs, Macs, etc. There is a term called “The Internet of Things” – which is basically saying all these devices are connected to the internet.
When social media emerged over a decade ago, it gave the internet a consciousness. It allowed us to participate in the information and the data we see. Up until then we viewed webpages. Now people are able to generate ideas, say what they like and what they dislike. That has made the internet now about people instead of webpages.
Sharing is a new expression. You can share articles and make comments with people all around the world.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that you must satisfy your most important needs first – whether it’s physiology, safety, love/belonging, esteem – before reaching self-actualisation. People share to move up the pyramid.
Sharing and technology creates positives and negatives in society. Sherry Turkle, from MIT, has done a lot of research on how technology alienates people. In Turkle’s book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, there is a really interesting quote:
“Drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we confuse Postings and online sharing with authentic Communication period.”
Many people do this, we all go to a meeting, we don’t really listen except when we have a point to make. We use our devices to tune out. Whenever I am at a concert/event there is at least 50% of people using a mobile device (including a tablet *facepalm*) to capture an event. They have to capture and share an event before they validate it. That’s one the problems of technology.
Technology can distance us, but it can bring us together.