Recently I saw some 50 or 60 new Yellow Pages directories piled up in the reception area of a smart popular business centre. It would have made a great photo opportunity but before I could organise a camera they had been collected by the recycling truck. The moral of the story obviously, who needs a great big cumbersome book when you can go online and find what and who you want so easily?
Groceries? Who needs that Saturday morning hassle when you can answer the door to the delivery man, fill up the fridge and the larder and then do something really interesting for the day instead?
The UK government is obsessed with data based on legacy thinking, particularly consumer spending on the high street. When do they include commercial data from the internet as standard in the general economic reporting? Government agencies such as the DTI can’t even get their heads around the fact that so many companies they categorise as service providers are to a large extent actually manufacturers. Albeit manufacturers of virtual products but none the less they are still manufacturers.
I refer to web development companies and software manufacturers. In my book a manufacturer creates wealth by converting raw materials into a finished product that has an increased value. Or, they add value through assembly and finishing a product from a range of component parts that may have been provided by an outside supplier. Ring any bells? Blank screen, 8 weeks later a bespoke e-commerce website. I have argued in the past that many so called service providers should be relabeled as manufacturers. Would such a re-positioning of many highly successful companies alter the percentage ratios in the UK business portfolio? You bet it would.
The face of town centres in Britain is being changed by the internet. Shopping malls devastated towns through the 80s and 90s. The internet will start to change town centres in the UK for the better. With new shopping patterns through the ever increasing switch to the internet by consumers and businesses towns are going to change. Yes some shops will close and some retail sectors will have to slim down their High Street operations but there will be an upside.
People will start to move back into town centres to live and bring up their children. Cafes, restaurants and other places of community and social activity will proliferate as people come back into towns to live. The night time urban desert caused by towns being given over entirely to daytime retail can change and that change can be for the good.
How much do Government, Senior Executives and organisations such as the DTI really understand about the dramatic changes taking place in our society? In my view not a great deal. There are amazing opportunities to be seized upon but to realise them we need leaders with insight and imagination as well as a simple understanding of the New Basics.
How many young people buy newspapers? If our so called top people want to re-educate themselves then let them start by talking to sixth formers. If the banks had put school leavers in charge of communication and advertising they might have not just delivered better services and information but also have saved millions that could be handy just now.
Does Google sit at the top tables with the so called Captains of Industry? I hope they do but somehow I doubt it. Britain and the US have some truly fantastic companies who are leading the world in the new sectors. Unfortunately so many highly placed decision makers have their feet firmly planted in the old world thinking in the old ways about yesterdays issues. When will they realise that tomorrow is already here?