Industrialisation made it possible for one invention to be manufactured on a large scale, and globalisation made it possible for it to be sold everywhere in the world. Never before had there been so many companies, customers, products and services that needed to find one another. Around the world, in every language you can think of. A gigantic ‘matchmaking industry’ was born to serve that globalisation and to bring products and services to people’s attention: from marketeers to translators, from a creative industry that could create the most impressive advertising messages, to the companies that would convey those commercial, persuasive messages to the public. That industry grew into an end in itself.
By now, the technology companies in Silicon Valley have been damaging that industry. It happens more and more often that those 24 hours during which an ad campaign can seduce us into buying something, are under more and more pressure, like a pressure cooker. We choose of our own accord to spend more and more time with electronic devices on which Google, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other platforms sell our attention to companies that hunger for new customers and more sales. They’ve won, but now it’s the social media that fight on their platforms for more of our attention and our time.
There’s more and more of them. There’s Uber, pairing taxi drivers and their passengers. There’s Airbnb, offering unoccupied apartments for short stay, which is popular among tourists. There’s Shapeways, letting designers have their 3D designs printed and sold to customers. There’s more and more of them, and it’s becoming too much. And so, we’ll have to do without some of them again in the future.
But they’re not the only ones in a tough spot: more and more industries will have to compete with the regionalisation that social platforms enable, and with the micro-industrialisation enabled by 3D printing, and meanwhile small companies will drop out of the race for lack of the means to invest in the innovation of the products and services themselves. Innovation is no longer a luxury: it’s become a survival strategy.
There are three questions we’ll need to answer about the future: what will our products and services be like in the future, how do we handle marketing and communication, and how can we ourselves best evolve into a platform of supply and demand?
Danny Mekić (1987), jurist and an expert in technology, wrote this article for Accenture