The Internet: the Great Disruptor

laptop with the internet the great disruptor

In 1995, not many foresaw the turmoil the Internet would create. For some reason, we, collectively, got it completely wrong. Bankers, financiers, and venture capitalists all realized the Internet would be the next big thing however. They rightly suspected it would be an e-commerce playground, where businesses could create their brands in the ether, with no overhead, low cost, and high profit margins.

So they threw money at it…. and created a bubble.

When the bubble exploded, pets.com, webvan.com, and many, many other web businesses that received millions of dollars of venture capital money were gone. You see, the fast growth of the Internet was more like the wild west than a playground,

Those experts weren’t wrong. The Internet would become an Internet playground where businesses could start cheaply, have no overhead, sell digital products with close to 100% profit margins and make huge sums of money.

The problem, however, was that many of these businesses were small, Mom and Pop e-commerce sites working in a niche, info-marketing sites, adult sites, or Amazon, Facebook and Google. Everyone else, many of which were thriving brick and mortar businesses, either almost went under, or completely lost everything.

Hundreds of industries were suddenly at peril.

The printing industry, was forever changed. A decades old paste-up and camera process instantly transformed. Instead of cameras and film and plate making, now, you can go direct from a computer to the press digitally.

The newspaper industry was slammed due to the abundance of news online for free. The Postal service still can’t turn a profit because people send letters by email now. The Yellow Pages, once the only place for small businesses to advertise, has been abandoned as consumers search Google. Now days, most Millennials don’t even know what a phone book is. Most never had to go to the video store to rent a movie. They’ve never seen a Blockbuster store.

Highly skilled jobs requiring years of study, now suddenly commoditized by globalization, outsourcing, apps, and Software as a Service (SaaS) tools based in the cloud. The world has changed. Whole industries have changed, and not all for the better.

Sure we have smart phones in our pockets that connect us with every person in every corner of the planet. We can track our health, blood pressure and sleep with a watch. We can watch any movie or TV show we want, instantly. We have access to all the knowledge that man has ever written. We can learn every language for free. We can hold 1,000 songs, and a 1,000 books in our pockets – but what are we actually creating with it all?

The Commoditization of Humans

Francisco Dao recently wrote an article for VentureBeat about the commoditization of humans. It’s excellent. I suggest you read it.

In it, Francisco clearly points out that the Internet, and globalization have changed humanity – sociologically. What the microwave did to our expectations about food prep time, the Internet has done to our relationships and our feelings about others.

People are disposable and a dime a dozen now.

He states that “getting a date is a few clicks away” with a “low effort throw away process.” Think about that. He gives many more examples of this, but think about it as a business owner.

The Commoditization of Businesses

The financial services industry is a referral based business. Today, the only real way for a youngster to come in and be successful is to inherit a book of business from a retiring financial planner. Cold calling is a waste of time in this industry. The Internet did that.

If you were looking for a financial planner, where would you look? Would you ask your friends, or search Google? The answer is both. The reason? You would find 2.8 million financial planners in Atlanta alone on Google. They are a dime a dozen. They all look the same, sound the same, talk the same.

That’s the definition of a commodity.

What about you and your business? If you Google what you do, do you look just like everyone else as well? Could potential customers understand exactly why they should do business with you?

The Dust Appears to be Settling

The good news is, the dust the Internet threw up appears to be settling. The bad news is, we are going to stay in a constant state of turmoil and upheaval. Just as we can expect to now be constantly interrupted with “News Alerts” and news crawls on the lower third of our televisions, we can expect everything to push towards faster, cheaper, better, and more.

Now, the competition isn’t local. It’s global. The pace of change isn’t decades, it’s months, or weeks.

This article isn’t designed to depress you. It’s designed to encourage you to take action. To push the boundaries of what’s possible. To understand the truth of your situation, and the context you and your business are living within. It’s designed to get you thinking so you can answer the question:

“How can I stand apart from the crowd?”

That question can lead you to myriad ideas. Some ideas will spawn answers, others will only create more questions, but in the end you will be better for asking it.

Why?

Because the only thing that will truly separate you from your competition, no matter where on the planet they are, is your ability and willingness to think through your issues, formulate a plan, and take action.

Success is in planning your work and working your plan.

Next Up

Stick with me because I’m going to show you how to think about business, and marketing, and I’m going to give you the ideas, strategies, tactics, and information you need to build and grow your business in this time of disruption.

Speak soon.

Other Emails in This Series:

How to Market Your Business Now

About Michael Miller

Michael Miller is the owner of Mindwhirl.com, a sales and marketing coaching and training company in Atlanta, Georgia.

Michael’s mission is helping small business owners understand, and organize their marketing so they can make money and grow.

Mindwhirl helps business owners plan and implement effective, profitable marketing campaigns and sales programs.

If you need more sales, we know how to get leads and grow businesses. Call us today at (404) 858-3105, or email me at mmiller@mindwhirl.com.

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