New environment, new thinking?

As things change in the world I’m shifting my thinking. What people need as consumers is changing. What providers should be offering is changing. The way businesses communicate and operate is changing.

At my business tier, we provide tools and services to business application software providers, as well as application-independent offerings to end-users. This article is about, and for, our many partners and competitors at this tier. But it’s also for the MVDBMS providers, primarily Rocket Software and Zumasys. If they don’t recognize and adapt to how the world is changing now, I fear the ecosystem of this sub-industry will break down. So when I say “we and our”, I’m talking about those of us who provide tools for developers, though, all of this applies to just about everyone.

Our audience may need to change as we think of ways to meet demand with supply. We serve businesses and they serve consumers. But consumer lives (all of us included) are fundamentally changing. Businesses that don’t adapt to the new consumer won’t survive. And if we continue to look to that tier as our primary audience for revenue, we’re going to have problems too.

So I’m trying to look beyond the norm, thinking more about what all kinds of businesses needs to survive, and how to offer that to them in a way that is painless in the new economy, and yet sustaining at our tier.

I’m not anticipating the apocalypse but I do expect things to get worse before they get better. People will be experimenting with new models to cope with changes, and new forms of communication and distribution. For example:

  • The common office may fundamentally change as companies get used to having employees working from home, and we may see a lot of big central offices closing as an unnecessary expense.
  • We will definitely see stores closing as people look toward ordering on-line and home delivery.
  • The quest for a paperless office has largely failed until now, but now in a time where people are going to have a problem exchanging physical media, I think we’ll be forced to use less paper, folders, filing cabinets, etc. Conversely, we might see a new flood of advertising in mail delivered by the postal service, directing people to online retail.
  • Trucking and delivery services may see changes with more people at home, decentralizing deliveries, and creating more stops.
  • With a shift from in-person retail to home shopping, a lot of unskilled people are going to be unemployed. This means fewer people buying, but more people available to do other kinds of work if we (collectively) can restore the relative balance of income with living expenses.

I think we need to try to get ahead of that, and be ready to offer solutions relevant to those challenges and the new models created to accommodate them.

And I’m thinking about these things as well in the context of simply doing good in the world. My thoughts naturally gravitate toward ways to use technology, to help people in their efforts to help other people, to facilitate getting necessary goods and services from supply to demand, and helping people to communicate effectively about problems and resolutions. I’m happy to help a company to create a communications mechanism that helps them to get products to consumers – but I’ll be overjoyed if we can use that to help get food and healthcare supplies to people in need. Some people help by sharing their time or goods. I’d like to help by doing what I do best, working with technology.

I’m not leading anywhere specific with this yet, just communicating how I see the world right now. I’d be interested in collaborating with anyone with specific ideas – or at least just thinking it through…

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