“How should today’s business leverage what is being learned about the social web? Certainly what is going on today is more than just social media marketing, limited to marketing and community outreach efforts. Some of the leading thinkers in this area believe that we are at the start of something much larger than a retake on marketing.
“We are seeing a rethinking of work, collaboration, and the role of management in a changing world, where the principles and tools of the web are transforming society, media, and business. The mainstays of business theory — like innovation, competitive advantage, marketing, production, and strategic planning — need to be reconsidered and rebalanced in the context of a changing world. The rise of the real-time, social web has become one of the critical factors in this new century, along with a radically changed global economic climate, an accelerating need for sustainable business practices, and a political context demanding increased openness in business.
“These issues cannot be dealt with one by one, but instead approached as connected elements of a new world order for business.”
Haven’t you head? There’s something big going down…
2009 was a year of discovery for me. Through a growing frustration with my job, an interest in business and marketing, and a desire to start up something by myself, I found myself spending a lot of time on the internet reading about things that interest me.
Call it what you want: the digital revolution, the dawn of the information age, web 2.0 or simply ‘the increased use of the internet by private individuals to make things happen’, it is here and it is changing the way people work, communicate, and organise their lives.
What fascinates me is that I didn’t really have a clue about the significance of this revolution that we’re living through until I began reading about it. Or the potential of the technologies that we all have at our finger tips (technologies that I have been using without thinking about for a while now).
When I try to enthuse my non-geek friends with what I’m talking about here I draw blank faces (or protestations that I’m over-exaggerating).
The interesting thing about revolutions is that people aren’t necessarily aware of the significance of the revolutionary events that they’re living through.
Sex, drugs, rock n roll
An interesting example is the social revolution of the 1960s (hippies, rock n roll, the advent of the pill and changing attitudes towards sex). It is easy for historians to get carried away talking about fundamental shifts in social mores during this decade. However, reports have shown that life remained much as it was for many people from the 50s through to the 70s.
John Lennon said: “Nothing happened in the sixties except that we all dressed up.”
So, are ‘the sixties’ over-hyped? Did a minority of people with high-profiles create a mythological revolution that never happened?
No, I don’t believe they did. Yes, through the influence of the media highlighting famous people in music and fashion, the decade has acquired a semi-mythological reputation with subsequent generations. However, a social revolution did happen in ‘the west’, albeit delayed for the majority of people, and it is a principal recent influence in shaping the liberal society that this country enjoys today.
The Virtual Revolution
The interesting thing about the digital revolution is that, unlike The Sixties, it is affecting the lives of pretty much everyone who has access to technology and modern communications and yet its significance isn’t necessarily acknowledged by a large proportion of the very people whose lives are affected.
We all have access to vastly superior methods of communication, information and knowledge resources and tools for collaboration than we did 10 years ago. However, the revolution has crept up on us. We adapt seamlessly to new ways of working and new technologies without necessarily recognising their significance. Which means that people who do ‘get it’ are going to be well ahead of the curve. As people like Chris Brogan and Seth Godin regularly remind us: ‘this sounds like an opportunity’.
Generalisations are not always useful but I’ll risk one here: revolutions seem to follow a pattern whereby they are perpetrated, championed and executed by a minority of people (early adopters in product life-cycle speak) who blaze the trail for subsequent integration into the mainstream. I think the revolution of communication technologies in the 21st century has followed a similar path. Although everyone uses these new technologies on a daily basis, a smaller minority is recognising the significance and harnessing the potential of these new tools for business.
The ways in which my life is being revolutionised by technology deserves a blog post of its own. However, I wanted to use this post to recognise the significance of this revolution. I’m glad to be learning about this and I intend to make full use of its potential to build myself an agile and innovative working lifestyle which allows me to spend my time doing things that I care about.