Future Doc

May 20, 2008

Last week I attended a talk by Dr. Benn Konsynski sponsored by the Atlanta Electronic Commerce Forum (AECF) called “Digital Disruptions: Emerging Commerce Discontinuities.” Konsynski is a popular instructor at Emory’s Goizueta Business School whose alumni have dubbed themselves “SOBs” (students of Benn)

He stated at the outset that he had 66 slides to present in 60 minutes! It was a lunch meeting and running overtime was not an option (but he did anyway even after skipping several slides entirely). The talk was quite dense — packed with observations and predictions about trends in electronic commerce and communication.
I couldn’t follow everything he said, but I’ll share my notes with you.

  • On predicting the future one of his main points was: “The experts don’t know jack about the future.” He pointed to this video called “The Knowledge Navigator” produced by Apple in 1987 projecting how computers and communications would work in 2010. 
    He also said (tongue-in-cheek): “The key to predicting the future is to predict often.”
    People will remember what you got right more than what you guessed wrong. 

  • Three elements are needed to successfully leverage Internet technologies:
    Connections (infrastructure), Content, and Context.
    “Content may be King, but Context is Emperor.”
    Without a way to separate the wheat from the chaff, the huge amount of new content available to us on the Internet is useless. We may get a million returns from a Google search, but 92% of us only look at the first page of Google results. 
    Another good example of this is YouTube a few good videos buried under tons of frivolous junk.

  • Traditional industries such as newspapers, the recoding industry, Hollywood, book publishing are floundering because today anyone can produce, market, share, download, and promote their products. These industries will continue to fail if they try to fight against the new technologies.”Suing your customers is not a good business strategy.”
    Radiohead’s In Rainbows download offer is the future.
    Metallica’s approach is not.

  • A more successful strategy is putting your customers to work.
    eBay and Craigslist are good examples of this.

  • The cutting edge technologies are not all Web-based, but tend more toward IP-direct.
    Examples include mobile wireless and embedded intelligence.
  •  By embedded intelligence, he was referring to the next step in RFID. Currently RFID is just an electronic barcode. But it’s now possible to plant a chip in a product that sends back data on how the product was used, where it was used, if it has expired or spoiled.  
    “What if things could blog or IM?” he asked.

Our STC chapter might want to consider inviting Konsynski to speak. While we work with technology every day, we aren’t always thinking about the bigger picture or at least this part of the bigger picture.