Capitalizing on Covid
In recent articles, I have alluded to the fact that the pandemic has opened a door to allow people and business organizations to partner and collaborate in new ways. But what exactly does that mean and how can you position yourself to capitalize on these opportunities?
To answer this, perhaps it’s time to rethink the purpose of the internet itself. To understand why I am suggesting this let’s briefly recap how we arrived at where we are now: Back in the early 1980s when researchers initially began to assemble the “network of networks” that has evolved into the internet we now take for granted, all of the effort was focused around simply figuring out how to “connect” everyone and little time was spent considering
what people would do with it once it was accomplished.
Then we had a brief phase affectionately known as the dot.com bubble when all manner of cyber-driven money-making schemes were explored as people struggled to figure out what “the web” was really for. A lot of these early initiatives were good ideas but most of them were ineffectively deployed in that their success hinged on things like cross-border trade agreements, virtual credit card processing systems, and sophisticated fulfillment arrangements that had yet to be invented.
Then along came a guy with a remarkably simple idea - buy books in bulk, store them in a warehouse and sell them online using an enormous virtual catalog - and he succeeded in making this work. And everyone went “Aha! The internet is a virtual ordering and fulfillment system,” and rushed to join in without giving the matter much further thought. Overnight everyone and their dog launched a website and then spent many sleepless nights wondering why no one could find them online, or why people balked at the idea of paying shipping charges for something that they could buy faster and more cheaply in a neighborhood store.
Yes, a few people became billionaires, but many more never saw a profit and came to accept that their fancy website was little more than a colorful brochure and that this was unlikely to change. But then another young upstart from Harvard decided to create a place where people could post information about themselves and even chat with each other and social media was born.
For a time, this looked so harmless and fun that even grannies were joining in and social media begat YouTube and the concept of a life spent almost entirely online was born. And then things got ugly, and people woke up to discover their beloved virtual world had become polluted with computer viruses, malware, cyberbullying, election tampering, ransomware, and fake news.
In fact, just prior to the arrival of Covid, at best the internet was largely regarded as a research tool, and at worst as a mindless place to waste the day spreading rumors and watching endless videos of kittens somersaulting around the kitchen. But what about now?
What if we are only just beginning to stumble upon the real purpose of the internet? What if the internet is not just a shopping mall?
What if the internet is actually a virtual classroom, a scientific laboratory, a think tank, a live face-to-face marketplace, a telemedicine hub, a global conference room, the world’s largest art gallery, a concert hall, a sport’s arena, a movie theatre, and a place to meet for Sunday dinner all rolled into one?
What if these examples are just the tip of the iceberg?
What if all you need to do to capitalize on the internet in the new reality is to stop fixating on what you do not have and seek out other individuals or companies (regardless of their time zone or postal code) who have skills that add to, or compliment what you are currently doing or trying to build?
What if you stopped merely advertising what you are trying to sell and started letting everyone know what goods, services, skills, and opportunities you are seeking?
What if you were open to collaborating on projects all around the world or trading services in cyberspace to create new goods and services and bring them to market?
What if all you had to do to get started was start?