Entrepreneurs are always looking for “the next big thing,” when maybe, in fact, it’s a lot of little things that are only recognized after the fact as components of a big evolution or revolution. In my view, the Internet “connectivity anywhere” has already spawned several of these, but the global change has only begun.
Emily Nagle Green, in her recent book ANYWHERE, argues effectively that the future of the world and business is ubiquitous connectivity, the total interconnection of people, ideas, and products through a global digital network. Every person will have access to virtually anything in the world from virtually anywhere he or she happens to be at the moment. Key vehicles already include wireless for communication, and RFID for product location.
The implications for startups in this context are huge. On the hardware side, we need better technology to provide a common digital network around the world, better broadband to satisfy the demand, and wireless ubiquity for connecting people, devices, and businesses. The needs for new software and services are just as pervasive.
So how do entrepreneurs train to lead the Anywhere Revolution, rather than be dragged along by its wave? Here are some principles I have adapted from Emily’s work:
- Be eternally curious. You need to be an eager investigator, avoiding the temptation to write things off before you’ve opened your eyes to all the possibilities they offer. Don’t let yourself be talked out of powerful ideas. Develop a keen sense of customer appetites, as well as current solution strengths and weaknesses.
- Be a ubiquitous connector. Some people are naturally “connectors,” using their links with others to create or promote opportunities between them. The Internet dramatically reduces the cost of being a connector. In fact, now we can all be connectors, and should be.
- Be an analytic thinker. Already today, your skills in searching for information and then synthesizing that information, looking for patterns, and interpreting it, can be more valuable than the actual information you’ve amassed in your experience as a person and as an employee.
Entrepreneurs should be asking themselves for every consumer and business product, how can we add “anywhere” connectivity to this item? This is called the connectivity diffusion.
- If you can enhance the user’s experience with sending, or getting, real-time information, you should.
- If you can add value to the product with connectivity – perhaps contributing to the cost, too, and thus defraying the price of the product for the customer – you should.
- If you can extend the life of the product in the customer’s hands by providing service or updating it with new features, you should.
- If you can partner with a firm that can do any of these things to bring your service or message to more “surfaces” in the customer’s life, you should.
Also, put your marketing hat on and realize the wealth of new potential opportunities to create more awareness and consideration of your product or service in the future of ubiquitous connectivity. Whether it’s coupons, or advertisements on the mobile, the connected device with geo-location that’s always in a pocket or purse is literally a whole new world for marketers.
As an entrepreneur, don’t apologize for your self-interest and profit motivation. Be an optimistic adopter of connectivity. Be a connectivity evangelist and embrace the connectivity future that is opening before you. That’s a win-win for everyone anywhere.