11th March 2011

Technologies that change the world: Slowly and then VERY fast

In all change, there is a Tipping Point. And it’s preceded by denial, by confusion, by the rear guard action of vested interests.

It’s a time when the old lingers on. When our natural tendency to resist change ensures it does linger. While we see the old ways as somehow set in stone. As being natural or right. Like the British navy insisting that their new steam-powered ships had sails and that the crew knew how to sail. There were at least 10 years during which the captains of those ships knew the sails were totally useless.

Just like advertisers still buying ad space on free to air TV -nearly all are useless and the alternatives are way more effective. But the inertia of “it’s what we do” is a powerful force.

Then there is a Tipping Point, usually driven by another external event, or a supplier who exploits the new technology. And large chunks of the old industry are ripped away. Though some will always linger, at least until there is another tipping point. And then it will all go, except for a tiny rump that lingers and lingers. Here are two classic lingerers:

• In December 2005, the world’s last ‘regular revenue mainline steam train’ finished its journey on the Jilting railway in China. Cheap coal, cheap labor and the stultifying bureaucracy of so-called communism ensured that steam had lingered. And for 93 years after the first diesel train! So does 2005mark the end of the steam era? Well, there is still steam locomotives used in the industrial railways in China… so no, not just yet!

• The last typewriter factory closed in India in April 2011. So the writing is on the wall. But the many millions in use in India and other places (such as the regions using Arabic script) will survive. So the typewriter repair business will continue in countries where labor is cheap, though while slowly fading to oblivion.

What are some examples of Tipping Points? Well, in Australia these are the two most recent ones:

Major retailers just experienced one. Their ill-fated attempt to argue for a ‘level playing field’ so they could compete with foreign retailers. It just highlighted how cheap it was to go online and a whole wave of new customers did just that! And those of us who were already online buyers became more fervent about it as we learnt of all the new products and services from various media stories. Well done Gerry Harvey (the usually very smart retailer), who instigated the campaign and set off the Tsunami!

Online share broking is another. It’s been around for a while, and it’s steadily growing. But it took the GFC and some big investing scams to highlight how the advice provided by financial advisors isn’t always great. So why not do the buying and selling yourself- it’s easy- while doing your own research on where to invest? Just pick it up for free from the brokers, a bit like trying clothes on in a store, and then go online! Why pay $100 to transact the trade when the advice they include to justify it probably sucks, and you can do it for as little as $10. The statistics show that more of us are going online, and have started doing it for all or most of our trades.

Recently, there has been another Tipping Point: a price war has broken out, as it eventually does with all new technologies that are essentially commodities. And a third Tipping Point has been the gradual development of online providers who provide good service, not just the transacting. Just as people have always felt, many feel more comfortable paying a bit more for quality.

Retail stock brokers continue their unrelenting drive to extinction.

What big industries are heading to extinction, already placing their heads on the chopping blocks?

Recruitment; Real Estate; Travel ;( some) Insurance; (some) Banking; Funds Management; Publishers; Training; Talent Management; and Industry Associations amongst others.

They all have elements of being ‘middlemen’ or ‘brokers’, and so will vanish in their current form. The new structures of their much smaller industries are already apparent to those us who work on the strategy of social media and social networking. Which existing players will ride the Tsunami? Which will be crushed?

Which leads to the big question: What is their external event, the big shift that will launch their Tsunami? Their Tipping Point?

Because it is long, long overdue.

Read more about Social Media with Lead Generation here.

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About Toby Marshall

Creating Customer Communities for companies selling B2B is my passion—shortening their sales cycle and building market leadership. My role sets the direction and vision of Lead Creation, tapping into the online experience of our large team of young professionals to implement cost effective strategies for B2B businesses.

2 thoughts on “Technologies that change the world: Slowly and then VERY fast

  1. Hi Toby
    Your Comment Email Marketing is Dying Caught My Eye

    I distribute invitations to the meeting and event planners within 28,000 companies in Australia and entice them to look at new products services and sample the venues before they book. We generate 3.6million page views per year

    But its getting tougher with fringe benifits tax and the competition – most luxury hotels are very competitive offering incredible booking incentives direct..

    I generate revenue for creating and distributing emails whilst most products increase rates ours have been reduced .

    Do you have any ideas on how I can increase my datase of meeting and event planners in Australia through social media? I have 800 meeting industry contacts on Linkedin and would like to reach their 135,000 contacts

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  2. Hi Robert, are a number of ways, happy to have a meet to discuss.

    Of course it is all about engagement, the database comes along with the work we do. Just has to be approached very differently,

    Cheers,
    Toby
    0402 799 746

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