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The Information Age & the Shift in Consumerism

Our world continues to change at an increasing rate.  The popular YouTube video series Shift Happens staggers us with statistics about the information age and how we continue to adopt different digital means to communicate and reference information. Social media is rapidly replacing other forms of knowledge transfer like print media and news programs.

If Facebook's population were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. People are more likely to find jobs, spouses and medical information on the Internet than through personal contacts. Just when we were getting comfortable using fax machines as a replacement for postal services, e-mailed scans, and cloud-based repositories are replacing fax documents and hard drive storage systems. In fact, emails are giving way to short message service (texts), posts and tweets because who has time to compose and read electronic mail anymore?

There is a massive proliferation of online and digital content competing for our attention everyday.  The total number of text messages sent and read exceeds the total population of the world. Where will this end? That's the point…it won't because the information shift continues to happen.

Specific to the purchaser of products and services, the customer/consumer/client/broker/decision-maker is now “always on” 24×7 to execute an electronic order or execute your company's reputation virally if dissatisfied with an experience. The customer is better informed about a purchase decision than ever before given the plethora of reviews, blogs and technical content available on the Internet. In short, today's consumer does not want to be “sold to;” they want to be “served.”

The Traditional Enterprise

So what does this age of Internet information sharing mean for businesses, especially in terms of brand marketing, customer interface and supply chain management? Quite simply, in order to be competitive in this highly connected world of the consumer, the business enterprise must be equally connected internally and globally with its commercial partners. But that evolution is slow to happen.

The typical business enterprise is a collection of assets and information, ranging from machines, facilities, supplies, capital and workers on the asset side, and transactions, accounts and business metrics on the information side. Unfortunately, the enterprise made three tactical errors in designing its early information systems:

  1. Assets and business information were linked on a “batch” basis and by “account” rather than using a continuous flow, real-time design.
  2. Information systems were developed incrementally and fragmented by organizational function for a singular purpose with no holistic curating of information across departments. Data were parsed out on a “need-to-know” basis rather than shared seamlessly through integrated systems to keep management continuously updated on business metrics.
  3. The most important resource to the business of an enterprise, its people, was generally excluded in the design of systems under the assumption that the information being processed had to be agnostic to the workers involved.

In addition, companies segregated their business-to-business (B2B) from direct to consumer (DTC) commerce instead of integrating them. Said differently, the supply side of the house was not aligned with the demand or intake side.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about how commerce is evolving. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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