Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Who is not facing the digital tsunami?

"While Web 2.0 offers many new opportunities...... By 2008, the majority of Global 1000 companies will quickly adopt several technology-related aspects of Web 2.0, but will be slow to adopt the aspects of Web 2.0 that have a social dimension, and the result will be a slow impact on business," according to Gartner, Inc.

Well, I just do not believe their hope that the impact on business will be slow.

In Tallinn, you can pay to park your car using your cell phone (see picture for instructions). What happens is that you enter a code, your car number the payment is collected via your phone provider by a third party who pays the local authority, takes a slice and pays a slice to the phone company.

Also here, you can set up a premium cell phone number free. This means that people calling that number pay for the privilege. I am told that some school children create web sites with their homework on it and password protect the page. They then text their friends and offer the password to the protected pages from their premium number and thus make money by collecting the premium payments from fellow students who (well would you believe it!) copy the homework.

They are very enterprising kids!

It is not the biggest stretch of imagination to believe the same is taking place among University students and other social groups.

Here they are getting credits for Intellectual Properties and can spend them to pay for car parking.... or, it is rumoured by my friend, drinks at a bar and other products and services.

This means another economy has emerged. Its currency is cellphone credits. Its market is in the convergence of mobile phones and cyberspace. The social dimension is already at play

Now, there is no reason why cell phone companies should be the only beneficiaries. There is no reason why the communications intermediary should not be (well obviously, because its is its home) Skype users (or other similar organisation) using WiMax.

Let us imagine that a range of intermediaries emerge in different countries such that the enterprising Estonian student can get payment from a student in, say, Portugal. Let us imagine that a blog or MySpace is used to list valuable IP and so the market is notified by RSS.... It is not very far fetched at all.

The marketplace suddenly became international.

What happens if this trading is for tangible assets such as oil or shipping tonnage and does this have to be through any of the established agencies such as conventional banks (
and there are other kinds of bank)?

At a small business level (student) and big business level (shipping and oil) the economy can change very quickly.

“While it is straightforward to add specific technologies, such as Ajax or RSS to products, platforms and applications, it is more difficult to add a social dimension,” said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

The social dimention is Public Realations - this is not rocket science.

The impediments may be daunting for big business but for small businesses – lets say a student with a car in Tallinn - it has already happened.

In fact a whole new economy has already emerged. Did anyone notice? Where are the regulators... who is collecting the tax? Why is web 2.0 a threat?

The digital tsunami is invisible only if you look the other way.