18 years ago, I had just returned from the most incredible journey of my life – before parenthood of course. That trip took me from the cool marble of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India to the gates of Afghanistan via Pakistan and the Khyber Pass to the Ganges-feeding chilled Trisuli River in Nepal. I sat on beaches in Goa, Thailand and Indonesia. Slept in a hammock on Koh Phangan, in rice fields near Ubud, Indonesia and at the top of dormant volcano Mt. Rinjani. It was an eye-opening solo education that shaped my thinking for life.
The reason I am telling you this is during that trip, and subsequent visits back, the one constant was the wave of technology that was gathering momentum each time I set foot in a different country. There really wasn’t an “internet” back then – not one that resembles today’s robust commerce and marketing engine – but it was forming and when I returned to Ottawa I knew where I needed to be: right in the middle of it.
In 1993-1994 the Internet was a hard sell. People, businesses, entrepreneurs I respected dismissed it as a passing fad. They would say to me “Rob, why would I want to build a website when I can spend money on a newspaper or television ad?” Well, you all know what happened next. From that point on the selling was easy and the opportunities were everywhere. The Internet of today was born.
The previous technology revolution – the desktop PC revolution – changed the desktop (as in our working desks) and business landscape forever. It enabled the Internet. It gave us a gateway to express our thoughts, evolve business and marketing tactics and truly shrink our planet. It was an essential piece in this third wave of technology revolution we are witnessing today. One that will trump the previous two and set businesses reeling and rocking and fully democratize entrepreneurship, consumerism, education, relationships. It will liberate countries, raise economies and bring us closer to parity in opportunity around the planet.
This wave is, of course, mobile. Only a few short years ago we all carried wallets in our pockets and purses. Today we carry computers more powerful than what we built the first generation of technology business on in our pockets and purses. These devices, connected to the world at large, are what will change the nature of business forever.
The wave of destruction the PC industry left in its wake was big but from it emerged some of the largest companies on the planet – Microsoft, IBM, SAP. The Internet era destroyed traditional business models, disrupted commerce and distribution and gave rise to an accessible entrepreneurial shift. Companies like eBay and Amazon and Google were born. The impact of mobile will be bigger and more disruptive than the two of these combined. Are you ready for this?
There isn’t a business on this planet that isn’t ripe for upheaval as a result of the very nature of mobile. Retail is feeling it, the service industry is feeling it, carriers are feeling it, government is feeling it, broadcasters are feeling it, advertising companies are feeling it, newspapers and radio are feeling it, even the dry cleaner down the street is feeling it.
18 years ago we witnessed the birth of something that changed our lives. The Internet opened up a creative business class of which had never been witnessed. Today we are sitting on the cusp of something far far far greater with far far far more impact and it will hit you square in the face if you don’t understand what is coming, how to leverage it and how to build with it.
One of the most incredible trips I took was climbing that dormant volcano in Indonesia – Mt. Rinjani on the tiny island of Lombok. As we were climbing our guide explained that because of litter left behind by tourists they had been forced to put garbage cans throughout the trail. Because of human laziness, these garbage cans had been hoisted up off the ground on pegs and equipped with a lever to dump them over in order to make it easier to empty. But sometimes the garbage cans weren’t emptied and because of ingenious monkeys, the garbage now lay strewn across this great natural treasure and it was piling up. Our guide lamented that the best thing that could happen today would be for this dormant monster to wake up and cleanse itself of the garbage and let the new growth rise up.
This is what mobile is about to do to. This is why we are putting on UNTETHER.talks. This is why it is important you understand what is coming. If you don’t, the new growth will knock you out of the way.