The first digital flashover point: Rise of the PC’s and the Internet.
Back in the mid ’90′s, the marriage of the internet with personal computing was the economic and cultural boom that fueled the technology industry. As Computers became ubiquitous, and the internet infrastructure began its massive build-out, information began to flow like never before. This was the first digital flashover point that defined a new generation of net-centric users. Hardware companies thrived, software companies exploded with growth, and internet-based businesses were born amidst the furry to adopt these new technologies. It’s been a good 15 year run, and while not over, is about to be redefined again.
The second digital flashover point is occurring (Hint: it’s in the palm of your hand).
Mobile computing will become the dominate communications/retail driver in the future; no ifs, ands, or buts. Already there are over 5 billion mobile phones throughout the world, which is 5x greater than the number of personal computers that exist. Many countries around the world (who up until now have been technologically challenged) are skipping the PC/Internet revolution and moving directly to mobile hand held devices. Their needs are focused on peer to peer communication and information exchange. Mobile devices provide both in a personal, and affordable package. Smart phones, barely 3 years old, will become the dominate device for the next period of growth and will continue to distance themselves, (numbers wise) from the incumbent personal computer .
What are the implications for today’s business?
Imagine you can contact, influence, market, educate, and follow-up with your customer 24/7 in real time. Mobile devices already allow a company to have this kind of relationship with their customer. Where traditional marketing and advertising was often a hit or miss, painfully slow, shotgun effort, mobile devices allow for just the opposite. You now have instantaneous contact with your consumer with the latest information, purchase incentives, and product availability delivered in real time directly to your in-market customer. While 30 second spots on the Super Bowl won’t disappear overnight, peer to peer and third party reviews of products and services will carry more and more weight with the consumer than traditional awareness advertising. Built-in bar code scanners will yield immediate and objective best pricing, and will soon allow a customer to find the best deal, and complete their purchase all with the swipe of a finger.
The Cloud on the horizon.
Having the world in your pocket is a heady shift in consumer behavior as to how they will relate to the world around them. The power of having 24/7 instantaneous connectivity, and access to information worldwide, along with instant transaction ability will continue make mobile devices one of the most dominate influences for the next several years to come. The rapid adoption of these personal devices will continue to strain the communication infrastructures, and will demand excellence in user-centric design like never before. Adding to this will be the need for seamless connectivity with the other items in our life; from our cars, homes, friends and families.
The need to connect, organize, and access these various disparate databases will be fostered by the rise of Cloud Computing. The Cloud will be there even though we won’t exactly know where there is. It will provide a new infrastructure that will allow users to access and stream their data and information from the smallest personal device to more traditional home-based computers. Cloud computing will be user based, allowing one to only pay for the amount of services rendered. No longer will we have to download bloated software requiring massive storage and computing power in order to access the simplest task. Upgrades and patches are handled while we sleep. Cloud is scalable, easily implementable, and will offer the ubiquity necessary for multi-device access.