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The Move to the Social Era

By on January 18, 2016

Most generations till now only lived through either a single era, or depending on the timing, they may have witness the birth of a new one.  I always considered myself lucky to be swept into the wave of the Information Era, but I paid close attention to the death of the Industrial Era only because it did bring so much pain to families caught in the wake.

I remember during the 80s & 90s, many of my own family members were laid off from well-paying factory jobs late in their lives and and felt disenfranchised and lost. Witnessing that pain, lead me to study the changes that happened from the Agriculture to Industrial Era’s trying to build up some patterns in my own mind to make sure I was never caught by surprise myself.

One of the red flags that was apparent during the change overs, was seen in supply and demand. There is typically a huge disconnect in supply markets. You will see a huge supply of old era solutions with dwindling demand, and then in turn, building new era demand with little supply. That becomes reflected in prices as well as the attitude in sales across those products.

To give you an example, when I first was involved with web development in the late 90s, a simple website for a business would fetch an average of $4,000 as it had to be coded by hand. Demand was so high, there was never any haggling over the price and finding good developers took time as skilled ones were scarce. Web developers at that moment, were all self taught as there were no education programs churning new ones out.

Fast forward to today, and schools are pouring web developers out into the marketplace. A simple Google search allows for hundreds of options, but for an apples-to-apples comparison that same website that was $4,000 in the the late 90s can be done for about $300, or less today.

The glut in information technology solutions is also apparent in the attitude in their sale approach. You can expect 5-10 pitches a week from some kind of web, software, app and/or hardware solutions from a hungry sales person with a pushy approach.

All companies need a sales and marketing apparatus, but desperation from falling revenues typically pushes companies to be more aggressive. I don’t personally see anything wrong with competition and companies trying to win in their markets. I only bring this up as a normal sign that things are about to change.

Take a short step back in time to the first personal computer manufactures. History does not pay that much attention to the losers, but you may remember companies like Commodore, Compaq, Packard-Bell, Gateway, and Texas Instruments. Hundreds of others were beaten out by a select few of now global dominant players like Apple, HP, Acer, Dell and Samsung.

You can also draw the same parallels to the early automobile manufactures that fell out leaving the global players we have today. This is just a normal business cycle of boom & bust that efficiently brings the best solutions to the consumer.

So why will the Social Era be the next frontier?

Just as the Industrial Era first focused on building machines for the sake of machines, eventually items came forward like the automobile and kitchen appliances that truly revolutionize life for the common person. Those two areas brought forward the need for better roads and homes to be built in accommodation.

Today, you have mobile and wearable devices that connect us to each others in ways never imagined before. What will be analogous to the roads and new homes that will need accommodate these new platforms? I believe the market is already starting to bring them forth, but they all revolve around social benefits:

  • Commoditized Entertainment – New social gaming and plentiful programs on every possible subject to make sure boredom is a thing of the past.
  • Commoditized Education – New e-learning tools & videos are bringing education on-demand at our convenience
  • Motivational Systems – These systems don’t just bring efficiency to our tasks, but also motivate people to get more done in a day going well beyond just typical organization.
  • Mind/Body Wellness – More and more systems are taking into account our well being, especially around wearable tech that gives information on our daily habits that were unseen before.

There are also new demands from labor that are surfacing, that parallel with the rising peak of Industrial Era. As demands grew for higher wages from unions and workers striving for that life with a new car and house full of appliances, companies were forced to make their workers more productive to maintain profitability. This made assembly lines and specialized tasks common place when the Industrial Era finally got into its stride.

So what will come in the Social Era for the modern work force that will bring forward the necessary productivity jump in labor? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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