On this page I have provided an overview of the impact the Digital and Internet Revolution has had on the human life experience over the last 20 years, and taken a glimpse into the future and where it might lead us over the next 10 years.
Now this may, at face value, seem to be unrelated to business coaching and mentoring, but the technology that the digital and internet revolution have made available to us means that we can now communicate with anybody who has a computer, tablet or smart phone, free of charge, anywhere in the entire world.
What this means is that as a mentor or coach, we no longer need to be in the same room as our student or client. Using tools such as Skype or Zoom we can talk to them face to face as if they were in the same room, wherever they may actually be in tjhe world.
So the potential client base available to coaches, mentors or any other professional service has grown exponentially. That’s very exciting, not only for coaches and mentors, but anyone with a product or service to promote and sell.
However, there are still many people out there who would prefer to actually be in the same room as their coach and mentor, at least some of the time, and in my opinion thaty will always be the case.
The Digital and Internet Revolution – A Brief Historical Overview
Over the last 20 years as the Internet Revolution evolved, humanity has integrated technology into the very fabric of it’s being, both personally and in their businesses and working life.
Looking back, we can see that it happened in 3 stages:
- The introduction of dial-up and broadband in the early to mid 1990’s, which was painfully slow waiting for your computer to connect to the internet, and listening to the strange but familiar sound the line made whilst getting a connection.
- The second stage was mobile connectivity, the era of the Smartphone and Tablet that can connect users with ease – at any time and anywhere they can get an internet connection.
In his launch presentation for the iPhone in 2007 Steve Jobs stated: “This will change everything,” and it has. Almost all of us now carry our Smartphone or tablet everywhere we go, and for most of us they have become indispensable. Over Two billion people own a smartphone. Australia, has over 30 million mobile phones for 23 million people.
- The third stage was the rise of user-generated content. Today we are all content producers and starting your own blog on any subject imaginable is easy and almost free. This all started with basic blogs and Wikipedia, but it has exploded with the rise of social media.
Today we put our CV’s on LinkedIn, and our life stories hour by hour on Facebook, and our photos and “selfies” on Instagram and Snapchat. Twitter has become a powerful tool where people can effectively send updates-mini blogs as often as they want to, and engage in dialogue with their followers.
Personal privacy has been virtually wiped out in this super-connected world.
Google, the brainchild of two brilliant university students was launched in 1998, and as it gradually dominated it’s rivals, has now become one of the world’s most valuable companies. Not only is it the world’s biggest search engine, it’s name has become a verb in the English language (Just Google it) and it’s the first place we all go to answer almost any question, no matter how obscure.
Today, the internet revolution is having a bigger impact on humanity than the industrial revolution had on the agricultural age that had lasted since the dawn of man.
In reality the internet is still in its infancy, but even now it’s hard to imagine a week without your Smartphone, or Social Media.
Can you imagine what will be possible in just 10 years from now? New opportunities and challenges emerge every day. In the next 10 years we will see the effects of this, and they will be huge.
Looking back over time, whenever new powerful ways to connect become available, once we had mastered them, they had a huge impact on business and life in general. This has been demonstrated numerous times since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and made the first successful call in March 1876. The technology was then developed and refined over many years and it took many more years before it was widely available commercially.
Similarly for flight, the first official flight was in December 1903, when the Wright Brothers flew their flying machine for 12 seconds covering just 120 feet (less than 40 metres) and the first commercial flight was on 1 January 1914. But It was not until August 1938 that the first non-stop transatlantic commercial flight took place.
The evolution of radio was equally protracted. The first radio telegraph (using Morse code), was invented by Marconi in 1895, and by the early 1930’s most households in the US and Europe had at least one radio.
More recently, email, Skype, Zoom and mobile computing have shown us that companies that adapt quickly, get a huge jump on those that don’t.
In a relatively short period of time, the internet has become indispensable. In 2018 the number of people online grew to over billon, websites have become an essential tool for communication for almost all businesses and social media has changed the way people connect and communicate.
Today, about 53% of the worlds 7.5 billion people are connected.
Imagine a world without the internet
Can you imagine what would happen if the Internet and World Wide Web were suddenly permanently disconnected tomorrow. What would the world be like?
It would be like going back in time to the early 1990’s. In that era most people had no idea what the Internet and World Wide Web was because it was still limited to the academics and the United States Department of Defense.
Here are just some of the things that internet and digital communications have given us; most of which we now take for granted, and that the younger generation have grown up with and cannot even comprehend life without:
- Today we carry a hand held super computer in our pockets (our smart phone) that can give us instant access to anybody, anywhere in the world, our music collection, Google and Wikipedia our social media sites and friends, email and so much more.
- Information is freely available, people are instantly connected. Knowledge, once the source of great wealth and power is freely available-Google and Wikipedia have given us the key to just about everything that ever happened.
- The arrival of Apple’s iPod, which went on sale in 2001 changed the way we listen to music.
- Social media allows you to find an connect with like minded individuals around the world.
- The idea that street maps would be available at a mouse click, rather than in a book, or that weather reports and stock prices would be accessible on mobile phones, was too futuristic for us in the 1990s. And to shop, well, you had – for the most part – to go to a shop!
- From their garage, or comfort of their home, people can create businesses or become superstars and celebrities, especially after YouTube arrived in 2005. It became a platform where individuals could show off their musical talents or offer opinions on just about anything, attracting huge fan bases and advertising dollars.
The way we do business has also changed forever
The impact of the digital technology and Internet revolution on business has already been profound. Geographical limitations have been rendered meaningless in almost every sphere of business.
- The web’s rapid rise caught Rupert Murdoch, one of the world’s most powerful media moguls, by surprise. His global media companies have spent billions trying to catch up since, as have most other media organisations. In 2005, Murdoch declared the internet “the most fundamental change during my lifetime and for hundreds of years”.
- Companies that were former household names, such as Kodak, Nokia even IBM, are shadows of their former-selves, losing their market domination as they failed to adapt quickly enough to the changes the internet and digital world brought about.
- The worldwide web, communications technology and social media have provided each of us with the ability to reach potential customers worldwide at the click of the button.
- You can create or source a product cheaply and quickly, design a brand and have an online store easily and cheaply, take payments easily and cheaply and connect and do business anywhere cheaply and easily. So you can do this from home easily and cheaply.
- We don’t even need an office. We can run our business from anywhere we choose; from home, our garage, relaxing on the beach, or anywhere you can get a wifi connection. This technology is now part of the fabric of human life and has changed us and the way we live our lives forever.
- You can use a Google hangout, Zoom meetings or a webinar to have a real time meeting with thousands of people (who could physically be anywhere in the world) and are able to participate.
- E-Commerce- your personal online store, allows you to sell to a global marketplace
- Amazon is already testing product delivery by drone and google has cars that drive themselves at advanced stages of development – they already work in a controlled environment.
- Closer to home, for me in Sydney Australia, we have just introduced driverless trains which are already changing the way we commute.
The internet and digital technology is even changing politics
In his last US Presidential elction, Barack Obama harnessed the power of social media and email to engage millions of supporters and raise money, breaking previous fundraising records. That innovative campaign enabled him to become the most powerful man in the free world, and to show the world the atrocities being committed.
More recently, it seems almost certain that Russia impacted the result of the most recent presidentail election by promoting Donald Trump and demonising Hillary Clinton.
It allowed the disenchanted in the Middle East and Asia to use social media to mobilise hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets and topple dictatorships.
Of course technology has it’s dark side. It can be used as an effective propaganda machine, recruiting young disaffected people to violent causes, as is now happening in the Middle East, with consequences being witnessed globally.
Our vanities, our prejudices, our failures to understand, our anger, our hatreds – the internet seethes with it all.
Where too from here?
The revolutionary changes in our lives due to technological evolution over the past 20 years has certainly shown that we can adapt and embrace rapid and major change and transformation due to technology, and it’s just as well because over the next 10 years the rate of change will increase and be even more dramatic; changes that are difficult to predict or foresee.
The Tech Savvy younger generation are the model for the future. Today’s 25 year old has grown up with the internet and their smartphones, and tablets. So in ten years time, every person under 30 in the developed world and much of the less developed world will have known nothing else but their technology and they will adapt seamlessly as things change because they’ve been doing it all their lives.
Traditional ways of doing business will be virtually redundant (no pun intended).
Social media has provided a platform we are still learning to use to it’s full potential, but we are learning along the way.
In coming years there will be many creative applications that today we cannot even imagine. One of my favourite sayings is “We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know.
Once the creative people in the world, in all walks of life, realise the potential – instant and cheap access to a global markets – and start to put it to work. The combination of the World Wide Web and Social Media has opened the flood-gates to the next revolution, The Global Market. In fact it is already here today, but we are only scratching the surface; the potential is almost unimaginable.
The great news is that the ease of communication and low cost of marketing in the Social Media world, and the low barriers to entry will enable new entrepreneurs to become the powerhouse of this new revolution – to seriously compete with global giant corporations on equal terms.
In fact, unless the giant corporations get wise, they will have a big advantage over them. I spent over 30 years in the world of Big Corporates in senior executive positions and one of the things I really didn’t like was how the politics and ways they operate stifled creativity, imagination, and risk taking. Entrepreneurs on the other hand, know that great success does not come to those who stay in their comfort zones.
So the great news for you and I is – it’s not too late to join the internet revolution. Because its still only just getting started, the best is yet to come and we can all take part in ways that were inconceivable in the past. The days of domination by giant corporations are numbered.
So get off the shelf and onto the boat, the best is yet to come. The full impact of this revolution will not unfold for many more years.
I hope I have stimulated you to take action. Please feel free to let me know if you have any comments or questions by posting a comment below in the “Have Your Say” Box.
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