1990s Retrospective on The Connected Consumer and Social Business

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Now that we are close to New Year celebration and reflex on the 2013 retrospective, I just stumbled across an interesting article where the author remembers not 2013 but books and articles related to “social media” from the late 1990s (way before we had Facebook)!  (see The Connected Consumer and Social Business: Looking Back and Forward) . The author, J-P De Clerck, centers on questioning why management and business in general has not evolved to really start thinking (and acting) social. I respond more on the side of the business concepts that orbit around Social Media. They are not new. And the excerpts that make reference to the Connected World, Online Communities, Big Data and Co-creation that I am copying below attest to that:

On the New Economy and the Connected World 

After having published part of it in a Wired magazine article, Kevin Kelly, wrote his book ‘New Rules for the
New Economy: 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World”
. Noticed the word ‘connected’? It was a best-seller. We are talking about 1998 here. That’s 15 years ago. Many social media experts were still teens but today’s managers were not. Kevin wrote about the power of decentralization, about how the Net rewards generosity and so much more. He, and other authors, explained how the network economy would change our ways of doing business and predicted the emergence of social networks and communities.

Here are some quotes from this 15-year old book, that will make you understand why I keep being surprised by the slowness in organizations, especially as ‘speed’ (the velocity or Fast Data dimension of Big Data, the speed of some real-time evolutions, the speed at which people embrace digital technologies), etc. becomes more and more important:

  • “The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention.”
  • “To reach ubiquity, you need to pass through sharing.”
  • “The prosperity of a firm is directly linked to the prosperity of its network.”
  • “Because information trumps mass, all commerce migrates to the network economy.”
  • “Letting go at the top is not an act against perfection, but against shortsightedness.”
  • “The central economic imperative of the network economy is to amplify relationships.”
  • “Firms that encourage customers to talk to each other, to form affinity groups and hobby tribes, will breed smarter and more loyal customers while creating smarter products and services.”

On the way Communication will change and Online Communities

In “The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution Is Changing Our Lives?”, written in 1997 (there was an update in 2001), Frances Cairncross wrote how consumers would be able to develop new relationships with companies, if they want to. She explained how customers could be involved in the development of products and thus become partners in the creative process of innovation. Collaboration and co-creation, the number one exponents of social business, now almost….16 years ago.

In 1998, Esther Dyson published “Release 2.1“, among others motivating us to contribute to the communities we love or to build our own ones and to understand the capability of the Net for genuine, two-way interaction. Sounds familiar too, doesn’t it?

Here is one that everybody knows: “The Cluetrain Manifesto” (2000): markets are conversations, the Net enables us to have these conversations in new ways. Valuable and personal conversations in a human voice. Not for the sake of them but because we need to think differently about markets again.

All these ‘pioneers’ are less known than the ‘influencers’ most of us know today. But they are more than worth a revisit. There isn’t a single evolution – including recent realities that are hyped – such as content marketing or Big Data that weren’t well described over a decade ago. So look at them now. Your customers won’t wait a decade.