I had a long conversation with someone oer the weekend about the Internet and how an entire economy has grown up around it.
Think about all of the jobs and businesses that didn’t exist in 1995. SEO manager (or firm)? Social Media Expert (or software)? Web designers – it’s a long list. Many of the companies with the highest valuations owe much of that value either directly or indirectly to the Internet. If this was a blog about politics I could go off here on a tangent about government investment (the digital economy owes a lot to the government both in terms of the space program and DARPA) but I’ll leave that for another time. Instead, I want to take the rest of today’s screed to remind about the Wright Brothers.
In the early days of flight there were lots of crashes and air travel was not for everyone. It took roughly 25 years before the DC-3 made it a broad business and until after World War II and the introduction of several airplanes based on bombers that flying was for the masses. That brought about changes in tourism and other businesses. The world became a much smaller place. The early crashes were not forgotten but they were seen as key learning opportunities, not just failures.
The DC-6 was disruptive. It affected steamship and rail travel and both businesses took a hit from which they really haven’t recovered (do you know anyone who’s used a cruise ship to take a business trip?). I’ve been asking myself what is the DC-6 of digital? We’ve gone from an environment of text to graphics to rich media to video to social. It’s become more mainstream for consumers and it’s getting there for businesses. Devices are becoming smaller, more personal (even wearable). I still think we’ve yet to see the thing that changes it all.
Businesses – and marketing of those businesses in particular - don’t like to take massive chances. In hindsight, it seems hedging your bet when it comes to new technology is not really “playing it safe.” When the digital DC-6 takes off, we all want to be on it.