By: Kent Oyler, President & CEO of Greater Louisville Inc.
Internet pioneers over 50 can recall being excited when the computer chimed
“you’ve got mail”. We actually looked forward to reading emails.
Today, of course email runs through SPAM, virus, and known sender
filters. Audible notifications and flags are turned off, texts are
blocked, and answering non-critical messages is relegated to muted conference
calls. Twenty years after AOL made it popular, there is no respite from the
relentless barrage of asynchronous communication (email, text, AIM, SnapChats, etc.).
Thirty years ago companies like AOL, Cisco, RoadRunner, and Apple began
building public onramps to the Internet. This was the
infrastructure-building first wave that focused on getting people to move from
dial-up to high-speed cable, DSL and wireless Internet access. In my
mid-career, I co-founded two broadband companies (one is now part of Charter
Communications) which played a role in bringing always-on high speed Internet
to homes and businesses. Our goal back then was, to quote the Eagles,
“Everything, all the time.”
In 2000, the dot.com bubble burst and soon after, the second wave of the
Internet rolled in. It was based on mobility, ecommerce, and apps.
Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, Uber, and countless others strived to
exploit the privately funded and operated Internet. Some of their
application platforms and hardware were good enough to change industries; just
look what the ‘cloud’, social networks, and iPhones have done to newspapers,
the USPS, taxis, hotels, and dating.
As disruptive as the second wave has been for business and society, a third
wave is now upon us. Building upon the first two waves, the third wave is
far more powerful. It carries opportunities and threats for every
business, government, and non-profit. Today, ubiquitous smart phones
interact with each other with the 20+ billion smart sensors of the ‘internet of
things’. The third wave is powered by artificial intelligence software,
infinite computing, and Moore’s Law. It will rapidly give rise to revolutionary
changes across entire real-world sectors like: healthcare, education, energy,
and transportation – all at accelerating speeds. Such rapid and broad
economic and societal change may sound futuristic or even unlikely, but it is
not. The third wave is here in 2016 and we all need to be prepared to
respond both offensively and defensively.
The first step to riding the third wave to success (or avoid being crushed)
is awareness. There are a few good books that lay out the factors in the
emerging business models of the immediate future, including Exponential
Organizations by Salim Ismail, which I’ve bought by the dozens to hand
out. Another is The Third Wave by AOL Founder Steve
Case. What I like about Case’s scenario for the future is what he calls
“The Rise of the Rest” where tech-enabled industries can flourish where they
are already clustered; they don’t need to all be in Silicon Valley or
Boston. Greater Louisville has strong industry clusters in long-term
aging care, logistics, business services, food & beverage, and advanced
manufacturing that are well positioned to ride this third wave.
Concerned, or maybe just intrigued? I invite you to join me at 5:00 PM
on June 16th at the PNC Club at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to hear
directly from Steve Case about The Third Wave. You’ll even get a
free copy of his book. Register here. Don’t ever say
you weren’t warned – You’ve got mail!