October 15, 2015
The business world has remained more or less the same for centuries. That is, retailers sell to customers, doctors and hospitals provide healthcare, banks make business loans, and CEOs typically specialize in a particular industry. These things (and many others) are accepted as undisputed fact and taken for granted. But what if these things changed? Don't look now -- but it is already happening. Technology is changing the very essence of what people assume about business and some of the changes you never saw coming.
|Industries overcome by the latest technology are forced to find a new business model or face extinction. Been to a video rental store recently?|
1. Businesses are Changing Shape
Businesses that once provided one service or commodity have had to completely change or face annihilation. An easy way to see this in action is the disappearance of the video rental stores and the innovation of streaming, but it is happening on a much more subtle, fundamental level, as well. The brick and mortar stores are closing locations and moving to warehouses to trade online as e-commerce businesses. Drugstores are no longer just the retail face of medication sales, these shops also serve as counseling services for the sick and service providers of immunizations.
2. Businesses are Crossing Industries
Not only are businesses changing their shape, but the very essence of what it means to be in one industry or another is eroding. Retailers are no longer limited to selling stuff to consumers, these businesses also act as credit card brokers, and often as service providers, as well, offering everything from movies and television shows to cloud storage. It's an interesting time to be in retail. Another example is telecommunications and entertainment, which have morphed into single providers of everything from telephone services to Internet services to TV. Few businesses can exist by offering a single vertical anymore.
3. Businesses are Communicating Differently
Business used to be done by phone calls, or through a combination of calling and emailing. Yet email (like all of its communication predecessors) ceased to be a fast, effective way to communicate and became another time waster. Much of the business communication is now done machine-to-machine rather than person-to-person. Financial transactions are an easy way to visualize this phenomenon -- most transactions are now done through the electronic transfer of funds in lieu of cash or paper. Mobile apps and social media tools have replaced much of the cumbersome, time-consuming email communications. Now workers can save time with chat or instant messaging instead. VoIP has freed business from the exorbitant costs of landline phones, changing the landscape of telecommunications forever.
4. Businesses are Valuing Assets Differently
A business' assets used to be their real estate properties, equipment, and perhaps the brand name. Now the most valuable assets might not be physical at all. The IT assets like the website and general brand web presence, social media followings, blogs, YouTube channels, SlideShare presentations, etc. are as valuable, and in some cases more valuable, than the physical properties and facilities. The most valuable asset of all is often the business' data. For example, Twitter's Firehose data is likely worth more than their actual user base. It's so vital to the business' success that the company recently pulled it off of the brokerage market. Technology is inventing entirely new assets and revenue streams that never existed before.
Crowdfunding/crowdsourcing means that businesses are no longer held hostage by banks or venture capitalists when it comes time to secure financing.
5. Businesses Aren't the Only Ones Doing Business
Lastly, with the latest technologies, businesses are not the only ones doing business. The Internet, social media, the cloud, and mobile tech has put business in the hands of the ordinary consumer. For example, crowdfunding means that banks and venture capitalists aren't the only ones making business loans anymore. Anyone can do that. Furthermore, almost anybody can develop and market a mobile app, advertise goods and services, and more.
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