The winds of change are blowing. The social, economic and political landscape are undergoing seismic shifts, every industry is being reshaped. The question is, what’s driving this change and what does it all mean?
On a fundamental level, people are upset – with big business, with the government, with each other. Questions are getting asked, discussions are being sparked and knowledge is being exchanged, the social movement has begun.
The medium to facilitate such a movement is the web, a network of nodes that is making borders seem irrelevant and distance obsolete. In its infancy, the web was a series of websites that was indexed and categorized by search engines – today, thanks to Facebook, Twitter and recently Pinterest, the web has become a social hub for everything that’s relevant. Communities are being created, content shared, and connections created, all in an effort to redefine the way we work, live and play together on this planet.
What does it mean for business?
While five years ago, it was acceptable for a business to put up a website and tell the world what you had to offer, today things are different. People want to participate in the businesses that they are patronizing; everyone wants to take part in building the brands of the future.
Consequently, three key have emerged for the next generation of commerce:
Community has always been an essential part of human interaction. Communities are being created everyday in new ways as people find overlapping interests, causes and circumstances; however, before the advent of social networks, communities were primarily created around physical interactions or boundaries (ie. a neighborhood community association).
With the social network boom, suddenly there is an exponential increase in the number of opportunities to discover new people with similar passions, beliefs, desires, etc. Today, people from all over the world who have never even met are forming communities. These communities are becoming the main pillar for a new era of commerce, as they become active participants in the brands they love and progressively build their clout to influence decision making.
Once communities have been created, collaboration begins. Thanks to a host of new technologies and applications, including VoIP (ie. Skype), mobile phones, social networks and the cloud, collaboration is being taken to a whole level. No longer confined to geographical or physical boundaries, people can erase distance and collaborate on projects, causes, ideas, etc. anytime, anywhere. Information and knowledge can be exchanged at light speed, thus collaboration is enabling new business models (ie. AirBNB), knowledge networks (ie. Wikipidea) and processes (ie. crowdfunding) to be created faster than ever.
Traditionally, companies have always developed their products in-house and delivered them to the market, then adapted their strategy or modified the product based on market reaction. Today, companies can collaborate with knowledgeable and loyal customers in their communities to develop new ideas, prototypes and products. Co-creation creates a new paradigm for businesses, as companies are now able to get customers before they even release the product to the market (ie. Quirky).
Overall, the social web is redefining the way commerce is conducted, and it’s only the beginning. Now is the opportunity to get connected and start taking advantage of the social capital in and around your organization – get ready for the next generation of business!
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