Working as a consultant in Silicon Valley, I'm surrounded with innovation, creation and invention. Developing the next holographic phone, flying cars, Insurance that's actually cool. Great stuff.
So, a few colleagues and I were debating the greatest invention of ALL time. The rich guy next to me said, "Life Insurance." I smiled and he sauntered off, knowingly. My Millennial whipper-snapper friend boldly proclaimed her # 1 choice was...the Internet. Pretty cutting-edge, lateral thinking there. Traditionalist that I am, I went with Fire. The debate got hotter. We decided to each list our Top 10 Greatest Inventions.
I expected that we'd have almost the exact same responses. I mean, world-changing things should be fairly obvious, non-debatable. Right? As one of the Presidential candidates likes to say, "Wrong!"
There were only 5 inventions that we both agreed changed our planet:
Fire (She got that from me)
My bright, 20-something friend's next 5 didn't totally shock me (since they were somewhat modern versions of my own) but more highlighted how the past is indeed prologue and immediate gratification and the NOW generation have taken over as Reality. Really real Reality.
Check out her 6-10 Most Significant Inventions (the ones on my list are here in parenthesis):
Social Media (The Computer)
Streaming Content (TV/Moving pictures)
Cell phone (The Telephone, Alexander Graham Bell)
Email/Working remotely (The Printing Press and the Airplane)
Online Shopping (certainly not on my list but could argue for Refrigeration and the Cotton Gin)
What jumped out at me was that my friend, who has an MBA from Stanford and is actually quite practical, was so incredibly passionate about why these 5 inventions were so meaningful to her. To me, they seemed liked simple conveniences, albeit great like Uber, but not necessarily life altering. I mean, we all survived, even thrived in business and personal interactions without Amazon Prime and Liking Posts, right? To her, however, they are essential, completely relevant and normal. These creations, she argued, are the Tenants of the Modern Life- providing value, saving time/money, broadening experiences, and bringing joy and deeper connections.
All solid, profound points.
The New Normal means new business opportunities to engage differently. It's clearly not just about the product anymore- it's the experience, outcome and what something does (it used to be called "benefit") that matter most. This generation of consumers, who will be inheriting AND spending billions, sees products as a Service and what they provide, specific to them and their unique needs.
Immediate Response. Electronic Processing. Self-directed Fulfillment. These are all simply table-stakes now. It's not just for Millennials or a target audience. It's EXPECTED.
With perception as reality, we might want to re-examine how we perceive our commerce and business offerings. It's deeper than Better, Cheaper, Faster. It's how does it make the customer Feel? The axiom, "What's In It For Me (WIIFM)" has taken on a whole new dimension.
It's also our chance to re-calibrate our scope and see the client's sense of value through their eyes... and the lens of The Internet of Everything. For commerce in 2016 and beyond, it's the window to the soul- and the wallet.
Just for old-time sake, other considerations for the Greatest Inventions also include the pedestrian: Penicillin, Steam Engine, Paper, Contraception and for our next gen college whiz-kids, the trusty ole Microwave.
And, of course, Financial Services are right up there, too.