Technology

The Erosion, Explosion and Meandering Effects of Technology

There’s an overlying synergy to what’s happening across multiple industries – including news, food, music, transportation, technology and nearly everything else on the planet – with how our geography changes over time. The time it takes is simply getting shorter as technologies advance quicker.

News adapted the quickest due to the speed of the web and the ability to communicate quickly. No longer does the audience have to wait for information to be disseminated, they could simply go directly to the source to get accurate information. Journalists have been squeezed out and newspapers have collapsed as classifieds and advertising moved off of the newsprint and online. I still believe there’s a huge value to journalism – having someone dig deeply and investigate – unlike bloggers… but they’re struggling to find the right model. I believe it will come. Investigative news is still valued… we just have to get the news industry out of the clickbait industry.

Food, for example, is shifting focus from mass production to micro-production and distribution. My friend, Chris Baggott, for example is investing heavily in this industry. Technologies in farming and logistics are making it possible for small farms to compete with massive companies. And micro-distribution can be optimized by geographically targeting. Chris, for example, has a restaurant who’s primary marketing expense is maintaining a Facebook presence.

Many people look at the music industry as dying, but it’s really just the same process that’s happening with food. In music, there were a select group of mass producers that held the keys to what we bought, how we bought it, and where. Now, with digital technologies, small bands can produce and distribute music without the need for a signed label. And more and more sites are popping up that allow bands to build demand with an audience, then travel to do live shows there. Compound that with merchandise sold online and a musician can make a decent living. The guys driving the Bentleys aren’t fans of this, though.

Transportation is changing as well. Mobile apps have made it possible for Uber and Lyft to transform transportation, allowing anyone to get a clean car out on the road to pick folks up and drop them off.

In my opinion, there are aspects of this that we need to keep in mind with marketing. Often, there’s a volcano of activity and innovation that spurs newfound geography that was never there before. Smartphones, for instance. Huge profits exploded and those willing to take the risk really made a ton of money. Marketers who adapted early rode the steep curve and saw incredible results. Marketers should always keep an eye out for the next volcano… being an early adopter can reap fantastic rewards.

Of course, after something explodes in activity, the geography changes. Competition settles in and market share is shared. This is the erosion. Taxi cab profits, for example, have settled into mediocre Uber driver incomes. No need for the big office buildings, logistics systems, yellow cabs, radio systems, shift managers, etc… they’re being eroded away and the result is good transportation at a solid value that provides an income worth driving for for many.

Then, in technology, we watch the meandering. The river of social media – for example – raged with incredible rapids. Huge companies were built to monitor and publish across the river of Twitter and Facebook. But the river is starting to really settle now. Some crazy offshoots happened like Google+ and thousands of applications hit the market. A decade later, though, and the river is cutting deep and the methodologies, best practices, and platforms are beginning to settle in.

It takes thousands of years to shape geography, but it really only takes hours to shape technology. Many marketers find comfort in an unchanging land that they can build on and not have to worry about. Quite honestly, I don’t believe that’s where we live anymore and probably won’t ever again. The land is shifting underneath us and marketers have to be agile to take advantage of the ebbs and flows. Get in too early and you could be washed away, but get in too late and you’re left building on a drought.

The mountains will always crumble. It’s why we see the big guys in all these industries buying up the smaller explosive companies and attempting to shore up the dams and leaks that are eroding their prime property. They may do that by lobbying for new laws or driving lawsuits with high-powered attorneys to keep the waters at bay. They may be able to withstand it for a while – but ultimately nature will win.

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