I was launched into the future yesterday. Well, my future anyway. But certainly the present for those at the 2011 eCommerce convention I attended. This was the monster show for all to do with eCommerce. In its most simplistic form; you go to Amazon and buy a book. That’s eCommerce. In a short few years however its evolution is staggering. And the rate of growth is increasing with every month it seems. At this point, I am sure we can think of situations we can’t buy on line; a haircut, order a vodka martini nor scratch an itch. But we can shop for a salon with a certain hair stylist and book an appointment, order a case of rare vodka and learn everything about why we itch, how best to prevent it and why it feels good to scratch!
Surely, the way we were is over. The unprecedented firestorm growth of eCommerce is but one excellent example of the new era of business ushered in by technology, it’s new applications in a global marketplace, new paradigms, new formats for commerce and a very receptive marketplace. A sole proprietor in California can place his service or product in front of the world almost for free. Established avenues of product / service distribution have been crushed by the opportunity from technology.
The established lines of business have been blurred and continue to further blend, dissolve and morph and occasionally reform very rapidly. New markets open as technology acceptance grows. Getting Grandma a computer for her 70th birthday seems wonderful today – she is connected to pictures of her grandkids, she can visit the other side of the world’s cities, buy her prescriptions and video chat with her old friends. Five years ago the idea seemed far-fetched.
We adapt or die a quick death. I saw the hundreds of ‘twenty and thirty something’ exhibitors pitching their huge myriad of services that get your new snow blower or her perfect shade of lip gloss in front of the prospective buyer, facilitate the sale and get it quickly and seamlessly to your doorstep. It’s a pretty amazing process and the new entrepreneurs and blending perfectly with the established infrastructures that have adapted and welcomed the change in service.
New skillsets are setting a new, fast evolving pace. Traditional education systems mostly do not teach this stuff. The traits of adaption, flexibility, social marketing, entrepreneurism, leadership, etc., are skills that are developed outside college walls. Those that can see these new evolutions in advance, getting out in front of them rather than playing catch up, will own the future of the next form the world’s commerce will take on.
The competition at the eCommerce show was fierce. The volume of services to fill the needs was vast and the whirlwind of the sales pitches was overwhelming. I’m sure I walked by the next Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook guy) at the show, all decked out in his best ripped jeans, wrinkled t- shirt and sneakers. Maybe it was the guy in the next booth who was wearing a baseball hat with the initials mF’er on them. I don’t know what he was selling; I didn’t ask.
Time will tell.