The Impact of the Internet

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Principles of the Network Economy > Best Practices > The Impact of the Internet

The Impact of the Internet
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
Since we are approaching the end of year, I was thinking back to the end of the 20th century. The year was 1999 and at the time I worked as an Internet strategy consultant at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. I lectured and advised a range of senior executives about the consequences the Internet was going to have for their businesses and organizations.

I remember telling retailers that according to IDC global e-commerce revenue was going to reach several billion dollars within five years. I told people from the record industry they should move to completely new business models (for the younger people amongst you, at the time people were still buying music on CDs; iTunes and YouTube didn't exist yet). I told people from the banking industry that the Internet was going to revolutionize the relationship with their customers, required a total redesign of their back office systems, and was going to change their organizations (banking retail networks). Just to mention a few things ☺.

Hardly anyone believed me. People were responding: "... but Mr. de Jonge, we have been in this business for over 100 years and now you're telling us that all of this is going to change real soon, come on, surely you can't be serious, ha ha".
Obviously these people were wrong. But so was I, because the impact of the Internet turned out to be a lot bigger than even I imagined. A big part of that was caused by combining Internet with mobile technology into user-friendly smart phones (thanks to the creative genius of Steve Jobs).

Does that mean that we now more or less understand the future impact of the Internet? My 2 cents is that we do not, because we have just seen the beginning. There is more, much more yet to come. I believe most of that will be caused by combining internet technology with all kinds of other technologies. Google Glass and Apple Watch are just initial, obvious consumer examples.
Such combinations of the internet with other technologies will make things easier for people and completely change the way we communicate, live, learn, work, and manage our organizations and businesses. The impact of the Internet beyond 2015 will be a lot bigger than its impact until now. Do you agree?
 

 
The Question is 'Flexible Business Model'
Majed, Lecturer, United Kingdom, Member
True, everything now predicts that technology will keep moving fast. Frankly we are addicted to our smart phones & iPads and are doing most things on it. Current business models of many firms are not flexible enough, they need more flexibility and continuous improvement.
 

 
It's Hard to Keep Up with Technology Changes
Emmanuel Daniel., Student (University), Tanzania, Member
Technology improvement is so rapidly growing, faster than we can anticipate. And who (business entity, government, country, individuals) can keep up with it at the nearly the same rate will win and control the world (a market, life or something with competition). Technology influences and will control almost everything.
 

 
Future Impact of Combinations of Technologies
Scott Schaffer, Professor, United States, Member
Agree, that we are not even close to the end of the beginning. I also agree that we are currently in a phase focused on combining hard and soft technologies. One mini-phase I see is a more robust differentiation between personal and business technologies.
I agree with Majed that taking advantage of innovation will require fundamental change in the way firms operate from an IT perspective. Most firms I have been associated with are strangled by IT rather than unleashed and there is much scope for organizational change leadership as a result.
 

 
Impact of Internet Beyond 2015
Sandy Musallam, Editor, United States, Member
Indeed, the Internet and technology in general have changed the world and will continue changing every aspect of our daily lives for many years to come. Technology keeps the world connected, it is a powerful tool that impacts the socioeconomic environment of the world. Success is highly dependent on technology.
 

 
Impact of Internet Beyond 2015
Augustine Manyau, Student (MBA), Zimbabwe, Member
It is at one's peril to deny that internet now dictates business and the way we live in even in a third world country like Zimbabwe. Internet has brought a lot of versatility in the way we conduct business such as banking among others. Everyone can do banking on their phones even those that have failed to open accounts in conventional banks due to stringent requirements. Through internet someone realized that suddenly there is an opportunity to do business with all by giving them an account on their phone. With a phone and internet anyone has the world on their finger tips.
 

 
Internet: Greatest Change Agent Ever
P S Grover, Director, India, Member
It is true that internet technology is the greatest change agent ever seen. It is changing our lives, the way we live, behave, learn, communicate, interact among ourselves and so on. It has transformed many paradigms of life, as regards education, doing business, entertainment, traveling, health, etc. Life will become more comfortable, with new challenges. We will be able to estimate and measure many new things, such as emotions, inter-human relations, health parameters, intelligence, diseases and their levels, and other intractable aspects of life. This may lead to improvements in many ways, such as improvement of quality of life, delay of aging - longer life spans, control of diseases, ease of working, more leisure, and so on.
 

 
Influence of Internet on our Personal Lives
Sachin Narayan Nagle, Manager, India, Member
Hi, currently everyone is getting dependent on the internet as the medium to connect to each other; it is having a very negative impact in the personal lives of the individual. People are not talking to each other, they are always on the smart phone even when they are sitting together. This is one of the major drawbacks of Internet and connectivity. They have built their world around the Smart phones. Even in the corporate environment, employees are not talking to each other. Rather they prefer to send emails for communication.
What scenario will come in the future no one can think, only can pretend, but the impact will be very big that is for sure.
 

 
The Price of the Internet on Humanity
Molokanova, Professor, Ukraine, Member
Yes, it's true, Internet has brought many good things in our lives. But it is a very huge danger. For any additional comfort you always have something to pay. And for the convenience and accessibility of Internet connections, I'm afraid, humanity may pay with very essence of human relations, depriving them of true love and more and more falling into a virtual illusion... Сommunicating with the computer takes out human energy. Communication with real nature gives it. Spend one day near the computer, and then spend one day in the nature and compare your state at the end of each day. All at once becomes clear!
 

 
Internet Will Bring Businesses Down
Martijn van der Werf, Business Consultant, Netherlands, Member
I believe that the internet has shifted from being a satisfier or additional service to becoming the spinal core in many business models.
Some businesses are depending on the internet and its applications to let customers do a significant part of what used to be their work. They have shifted from using internet as an extra selling point or satisfier to becoming dependent on it, very much like we as individual people have.
With more and more staff reduction - enabled by transaction applications - there is no way organizations can endure significant periods of downtime without severe damage. Like people, organizations have moved from being users to acting as addictives. I therefore think 2015 starts an era in which we will see organizations go down because of flaws in their internet presence in combination with too little back up plan. Many businesses no longer use internet, it defines them! No internet means no business, messing with it is life threatening!
 

 
The Positive and Negative Impact of the Internet
Martin Lekoski
Indeed, the technology may have improved. The internet helped people connect from all around the world (something that couldn't be done before). All the information is now at our disposal by pressing a button on a keyboard.
It gave us much, but it also took something from us. It made us a lot lazier, and perhaps disconnected from the "real world" and our fellow men. When I take the bus, all I see is people staring at the screens of their smartphones. I meet a friend, we sit on a cup of coffee and he checks the phone and Facebook every minute as if he would die if he didn't.
Perhaps it would be better if we were to consider the negative impact of the internet and technologies, for soon we may find ourselves to be slaves of the very technology we made to ease our lives.
Or if you are an opportunist, you will just shift the business model and adapt it to exploit your men as if they were cows. It's all about choices.
 

 
The Gap Between Modern and Traditional People and Businesses Will Increase Persistently
Hafiz Hamza Abuelyamen, Strategy Consultant, Sudan, Member
The gap between modern (using internet) and traditional (non-internet) people and businesses is going to increase over the years.
1. A huge gap will form between civilized persons internet users versus traditional non internet users.
2. Businesses using internet will remain making progress while those permanently not using internet will decline.
3. Traditional way of doing business will reach clogged roads.
4. Increase in modern businessman richness and in traditional business poorness.
5. Internet usage may be one of the indicators of national income or GDP in some developed countries.
 

 
Impact of Internet Beyond 2015
MOHD.NAZRIE ABDULLAHJOSRIN BIN AMBAN, Student (University), Malaysia, Member
The internet is disseminating any kind of insights to share them with other people and can change their ideas. For businesses, this is one of the ways companies can distribute product information to the potential customers into the market.
On the other hand, for example other companies can look for opportunities in other companies' weaknesses and then base an advantage on those.
So actually the internet has advantaged and disadvantaged to people and the business sector. Furthermore, whatever implication - positive or negative - it depends on the individual decision and position to interpret the internet impact.
 

 
Impact of the Internet Beyond 2015
M Johnson, Management Consultant, Australia, Member
The internet will have an increasing impact on our lives for many years to come, until it is superseded by some, as yet, unthought-of means of communication. I believe that one area where we will see great change, very soon, is remote monitoring of machines and humans. As an example, I don't think it will be a long time before more and more smart sensors are fitted to our cars and condition information relayed via the internet to a service organisation which will then inform us when to bring the vehicle in for a service, or when the tires need to be changed.
Perhaps we might see a similar thing happening when we personally get fitted with an internet connected transmitter which picks up health related information from sensors imbedded within our bodies, and relays it to our medical practitioner who advises what action or pharmaceutical is required to improve our performance or fight a virus which we have just contacted.
Just think of the business opportunities here.
 

 
Internet Future and Free Choice
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
@M Johnson: God forbid that your predictions come true - it would be more dreadful than the picture portrayed in George Orwell's "1984". The loss of any ability to choose for the individual would turn the human race into a mass of automatons, and imagine the political ramifications in those places subject to autocratic rule? Horrible!
 

 
Internet Beyond 2015
Sandy Musallam, Editor, United States, Member
@Andrew Blaine: Andrew, there will always be a human backup behind any technology. Without humans technology would have no life on its own. Humans will always be present, and the human to human interaction will always be necessary and indispensable. While it is a fact that in the future the amount of people needed to complete a project or job will be considerably less because of technological advances, technology cannot survive without the human direct intervention.
 

 
'Wow' what an Opportunity to Learn and Grow
Bill Boynton, Teacher, United States, Member
The concepts of the internet's effect on our lives in general is mind boggling, and thank you Jaap de Jonge for bringing this issue to the for-front of our need for awareness.
What goes through my mind with this great phenomenon is the opportunity it brings to all of us as individuals, organizations, and/or teams, to develop a plan for learning and growing, for putting together strategies that will create a system to use the whole process as a personal learning vehicle.
To put together strategies for "change" that will allow us to learn and grow with far more enthusiasm and confidence, and be a service with and for each other.
We should all get to work on this "opportunity" with a priority mentality.
 

 
Wow what an Opportunity
Hafiz Hamza Abuelyamen, Strategy Consultant, Sudan, Member
@Bill Boynton: It is an opportunity that brought OBAMA the chance of being the President of USA. Obama used the internet / social networking in his election campaign. Stream revolutions in some of the Arab countries also used internet to remove various dictatorships. So what kind of opportunities that could bring further? And to whom?
 

 
BigHistoryProject Says Yes
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, Premium Member
I agree with Jaap, even if we may be calling it something else than the Internet.
Followers of BigHistoryProject will recognize this formula: Ingredients + Goldilocks conditions = Increasing Complexity
For sure we are continually adding hard technology ingredients (sensors, wearables, robotics, mobile/wireless, nanotechnology, 3D printing, supercomputers) as well as soft knowledge (brain, cognitive research, biomimicry, etc.). Undoubtedly some “just right” conditions will come about creating new things, more complex things with new qualities that are unimaginable and unknowable today. The Goldilocks conditions might include a positive political breakthrough in global collaboration or perhaps a negative economic crisis where survival becomes the primary driver.
Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry. As members have noted above, applications can result in good or bad, moral or immoral, ethical or unethical, legal and illegal, harmless or harmful impacts. Humans decide on the usage and purpose which can lead to positive and negative unintended consequences.
I believe that Human Communication has its own "Big History” timeline. It starts with cave dwellers using their voices to communicate to today where the Millennial generation prefer to communicate using their fingers pressing on keyboards. There is a time lag when a new technology is introduced to when humans learn how to use it properly. A lag could be brief, 50 years, 150 years or even longer.
An example of still waiting to be synched is the printing press invented by Gutenberg around 1450. The initial application was printed leaflets which eventually led to bound books, dot matrix documents, inkjet, laser, 3D printing. While printing technology has evolved, to this day we humans struggle with “proper usage”. At one extreme are the anarchists who believe in total freedom; at the opposite end are the conservatives who seek command and control. Between the two emerge the issues and debates - freedom of the press, handwriting vs. typewriting skills, banning books in school, what is or is not pornography, and so on. I shudder when I hear about blueprints available for 3D printing a hand gun.
The Internet is the latest threshold, a game-changer, on the Human Communication timeline. For me that would be around 1995 when Netscape Navigator and later Microsoft Internet Explorer web browsers became practical. It seems everyday we can read about another technological leap. But as history shows, we humans lag behind struggling with “proper usage”. Some issues today sound like the past: Countries restricting internet usage, paid subscriptions vs. free membership, hard copy vs. digital eBook. Some issues are new: Wikileaks, password security, user privacy, DRM, global sharing, net neutral, social networking do's and don'ts. And then there are some issues like selling pornography that just happily carry on.
Perhaps there never will be a time when technology and humans are in synch. Personally I’m not overly worried about technology taking over the world. After all, it’s humans who create the technology. So It’s humans at the front and humans at the end on my timeline. Seems “just right” to me.
 

 
Humans and Technology
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
@Sandy Musallam: And in your answer lies the problem. Once you involve humans you include emotions, ambitions, Desires and fears. These can all be equally beneficial or harmful and as I said, in the hands of an autocrat I ask you to imagine the potential for harm and slavery?
 

 
The Impact of the Internet on the Human Species Timeline
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
Thanks all for your excellent contributions so far to our discussion on the impact of the internet beyond 2015.
@Gary Wong: I agree the internet is a game-changer on the human communication timeline, or actually I think of it as an communication revolution causing the next step in the human species timeline. Regarding the 'time lag' you mentioned it's interesting to note that the lag between a key invention and the time we really understand how to apply it is getting shorter with each revolution. Even if we are finding it hard to recognize that, because we happen to be living just inside of one particular change.
Let's approach the new possibilities with an open, enthusiastic and creative spirit, without being naive. Darwin taught us what happens to creatures that do not embrace and adapt to new circumstances and possibilities. No doubt Darwin's lessons also apply to organizations and companies.
 

     
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