We are living in a Connected Age.
In fact, we are in the early stages of the The Third Connected Age.
The First Connected Age began in 1989 with the birth of the World Wide Web, though for many of us, our first experience was in 1993, with the advent of Mosaic which was the first commercially available web browser.
In that first era with slow modems we learned to navigate grey pages with blue links.
Over time, the first connected age brought us two wonders. The ability to connect to information and the possibility to connect to transact.
In many parts of the world, Google came to dominate the connect to be informed and Amazon the connect to transact benefit.
Search and E-commerce changed life.
Amazon and Google are now two of the most valuable companies in the world.
In and around 2007 we entered the Second Connected Age.
This era was marked by the first smart phones and scaled social networks. We could now connect to everybody and connect all the time.
Social and Mobile built on the First Connected Age and changed the world in many ways including the deluge of individualized, second by second data.
Apple and Facebook dominated connect all the time and connect to everybody and joined Google and Amazon as the most valuable companies in the world.
The Second Connected Age allowed for the birth of Uber and Airbnb since without mobile devices and social recommendations these would not have been what they became.
But it also allowed Dollar Shave Club to steal huge market share from Gillette and Schick . They used the communication abilities of You-Tube and the sampling and targeting abilities of Facebook to use the data of the incumbents and their inability to adapt against them. Add to this lack of direct to consumer marketing skills of the dominant players , the risk of alienating retailers and a management incentivized for today versus tomorrow and the goose was cooked. P&G which was and through learning and re-invention from this and other debacles remains a top notch marketer had to take a 8 billion dollar write down on Gillette last year.
The Second Connected Age also saw social media becoming a double edged sword as the micro-targeting that allowed marketers to sell product could be leveraged by politicians and other folks to micro-target passions and influence elections, inflame and scale rage and much more.
The second order impact of each connected age is far greater than the technology impact.
We are now in the midst of the Third Connected Age
This third connected age is driven by four new connections
Data connecting to data which is pattern matching and machine learning which today is the most important flavor of current AI
Much faster ways of connecting which will be turbocharged by 5G
New ways of connecting which today is Voice (and tomorrow will be AR/VR)
Constant connection to massive computing power which is the Cloud
If you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home you have a Third Connected Age device in your home. They use AI, Cloud and Voice and in many countries are connected via 5g rather than wireless as they are in the US.
A company that re-invented in self in part due to a new open and growth mindset management style but also by embracing the Third Connected Age is Microsoft. With Azure, X-Box Game Pass, Next Generation LinkedIn and much more Microsoft, along with Amazon and Google and many others is going to be a dominant player in the Third Connected Era and competes with Apple to be the most valuable company in the world.
The impact of the Third Connected Age has also recently been zoomed into the future due to Covid-19 and it will re-make industry and society in ways we can barely comprehend.
Too many companies and people are looking back at trying to catch up to the reality that the first and second connected age has had on their business. Any smart Board of Directors should be carving out time at each board meeting to understand the implications of The Third Connected Age. And if you do not believe it will rock your world just review what the First and Second Connected age has done.
And the Third Connected Age is far more than technology.
We should not forget the reality that all of us are interconnected. From Innovation which I define as “fresh insightful connections” to Climate Change where the melting of Glaciers impacts life thousands of miles away to the ultimate human connection which is love, everything is connected.
In this polarized age let us not to forget to connect.
Every Sunday I write a free newsletter which you can subscribe to by going to Rishad.Substack.Com . This piece is one of three in today’s newsletter which also includes S.A.V.E and Cool Shit.
Rishad Tobaccowala (@rishad) is the author of the bestselling “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data” published by Harper Collins globally in January 2020. It has been described as an “operating manual” for managing people, teams and careers in the age we live in and The Economist Magazine called it perhaps the best recent book on Stakeholder Capitalism. Rishad is a sought after speaker, teacher and advisor who helps people think, feel and see differently about how to grow their companies, their teams and themselves. More at https://rishadtobaccowala.com/