The exponential technology evolution of the last 25 years has had a broad impact on everything. Okay, maybe not everything—but the list is extensive. And it reaches much further into aspects of our lives than we could have ever imagined three decades ago. Consider the following examples of the cultural impact tech has had:
- Democratization of Information
- Previously, a few organizations controlled the flow of news & information that shaped public perspectives and opinions. Today people make, capture, and/or promote their own news on a daily, hourly, and sometimes minute-by-minute basis. Social media offers a never-ending stream of opinion columns published by the articulate and inarticulate alike. Offer up a take that resonates and you can have your own global audience overnight.
- Transparent Expectations
- In this age of information overload, trust is tougher to come by. This is especially true when it comes to large well-funded organizations, such as news agencies, companies, and political parties. Instead of polished, institutional presentations, people look to real, “everyman” voices. People want more transparency, authenticity, and relevance in the content they consume.
- Closer together
- In some ways, technology has brought the world closer together. We can watch a war in Syria unfold real-time from the perspective of a desperate father or mother. We can laugh together at a funny interaction between a group of friends in India. Our shared humanity translates well. Visibility into unfiltered real-life moments connect people around the world despite nationality, race, religion, culture, politics, and other differences.
- Further apart
- Technology induced cultural changes have also caused divisiveness and isolation. Perhaps it’s the anonymity. Or perhaps people, by nature, tend to wrestle with power when it’s given to them in any form without firm controls. But the list of negatives that have come out of how people conduct themselves online is long and troubling.
- Virtual Communities
- How often do you talk with your neighbors in person? Chances are that you talk with neighbors less now than you did 10 years ago. Geo-centric communities (local neighborhoods) have become less important as people have leveraged now common communication technologies to get and stay connected with those who share similar interests, heritage, history, challenges, and concerns.
- Independent Learners
- People look online first to learn about a new topic, answer a question, or explore a concept. People often seek just-in-time learning as they need answers to specific questions or solutions to specific problems. Even when people seek recommendations or endorsements, they now often do it through their own digital networks made up of people they trust.
- Integrated World
- Science fiction writers and Hollywood have long explored how technology would transform civilization—often with sinister Frankensteinian plots. Turns out that the real life infusion of technology into our everyday lives is both more invasive and more benign than the fictional versions. From catching rides to finding nearby restaurants, there is an app for just about every real world activity, interest, and interaction these days.
Impact of Technology on Commerce
Similarly, the ongoing technology revolution has transformed business. Expectations have changed. Business must continuously improve processes and approaches to remain competitive. Here are some examples of the impact technology has had on business.
- Fading Boundaries
- Business once built the sales mode around geographic proximity. People shopped at their local mall. Businesses engaged with the local sales guy. Made sense then. Not as much now. While location will likely always be valuable or even essential for some transactions, an increasing majority of interactions do not require immediate proximity.
- Organizational Connections
- Traditionally, the front line sales person played the critical role in the relationship with the prospect or customer. Today that has changed. Digital interactions including automated marketing and sales activities enable organizations to build direct relationships with their audiences. Additionally, CRM supported collaboration by cross-functional teams strengthens the organizational connection with their target audiences.
- Sales Role
- The educator role that sales people have traditionally played has also become less critical. This is not to sale that sales people no longer need to know their products with their relevant contexts. But for most major purchases, modern audiences will educate themselves independent of the sales representative. Today, endorser, issue resolver, and success advocate are more significant sales roles.
- Long-term Relationships
- Customer loyalty is not a new thing. Paper companies in Scranton, PA were busy building relationships long before the Internet came along. But CRMs, marketing automation, and other tools make it easier for organizations to build and maintain personalized, long-term relationships with large, diverse audiences.
- Continuous Improvement
- Continuously improving performance over time using LEAN, Six Sigma, and other industry best practices has become commonplace. Furthermore, the capture, analysis, and application of data to identify issues, trends, and opportunities have become essential to competitiveness. These efforts drive organizational efficiencies and enhance the audience experience.
- Empowered Customers
- While some may argue it smells of entitlement, the reality is that the ongoing advancement of technology continues to raise audience expectations. People expect more. The increased expectations are not just for cooler tech either. People have come to expect ongoing improvements in usability, services, convenience, and value. The train is moving. Like little kids at Christmas, people are always anticipating the next big thing.
What’s your take?
These are not comprehensive lists. What would you add to them? How else has tech changed common culture? How else has innovation transformed commerce?