This is interesting. Back in the ’90s it was being said that, “all things that can be digital will be digital.” This makes perfect sense in an Internet world since “bits” are said to be “weightless” when compared to “atoms.” There are little marginal costs in their production, they are cheap and easy to ship, they can often be sold without typical intermediaries, and information (text, photos, audio, video and movies) can easily be converted. It would be the “democratization” of information where anyone could be a publisher / movie producer / rock star, with direct access to audiences.
And of course, in a large way we’ve seen this come to pass, with blogs, YouTube and social media leading the way, along with a great deal of consternation, too, eg: Napster leading to lawsuits against music consumers, the decimation of newspaper revenues, and Hollywood’s foot-dragging as it clings to antiquated business models despite Apple’s best efforts to coral them into the iTunes store.
Add to this today’s revelation that, at least for Amazon’s Kindle, digi-books are outselling paper ones. This should not be surprising as we’ve already seen the same shift from physical product to digital in the music industry. But it’s telling that consumers are preferring digital in a growing way across all media. The prophecy is coming to pass.
But also telling is that this conversion is not always consumer driven. Online banking, digital tax filing, medical records and more are also proliferating because businesses understand the cost savings that digital provides. Whether consumer like it or not (think phone menus and computerized customer service — “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that …”) we’ll see more and more of our lives going digital, especially with smartphones making it possible for almost everyone to be connected relatively cheaply. If you are looking to leverage these advantages for your business just be sure to look past the bottom line. Implement digital in ways that benefit — make that delight — your customers, as Amazon has done with the Kindle. But beware of saving money at the expense of the customer experience — the other side of the two-edged digital sword.
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