The need for certainty is the greatest disease the mind faces - Robert Green
The more I think about the future, the more I understand that the world is in an uncertain place.
The ability to intelligently deal with uncertainty is important. Life is nothing more than one random event, after the other. The people who think are in control are in for a nice ride.
But every crisis has winners and losers. Those who can adapt will win.
Investors are betting on tech (Nasdaq).
But the uncertainty is growing, and the hope for a v-shape recovery is falling apart, especially in the normal economy. To many fragile events are taking place and in most countries unemployment is rising rapidly.
Many people want to go back to normal, they hold on to a time that they understand - or at least they think. But going back while the world is moving forward is not a possibility.
A new future is uncertain. And if one thing is for sure is that we can’t handle uncertainty. It doesn’t matter if the future is bright, or negative. New is a thing that scares us.
What I learned a while ago is that if you take a step back, and think about big events in your life, is that they are all random. And it is only after the event, I was able to connect the dots. But when I looked closely, this was in most cases just a made-up story to please/convince myself.
The stories we tell ourselves, give us a sense of control. And that is what we all seek.
But the truth is, is that we never find it.
The future is E-commerce
It doesn’t come as a big surprise, but e-commerce seems to be doing great. What I especially like is the growth of Shopify.
In a series of tweets, Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein point out that between March 13 and April 24, the number of consumers who bought something for the first time “from any Shopify merchant grew 8% and from merchants, they’d never shopped at before by 45% compared to the six-week period immediately prior.” During the same period, he pointed out that the “new stores created on Shopify grew 62%.” (source)
This chart represents a future where local businesses are important and supported by Shopify and Square. Big tech will always win, but we can try to build a society where we support local entrepreneurs.
The recession will be a challenge for this sector, but it could also motivate smaller companies to innovate.
Companies who don’t embrace the new world will have it very difficult.
Last couple of weeks we created new habits in rapid tempo, some of them made our life easier and I do believe they form a new system in our daily routine.
Last week Jack Dorsey (CEO Twitter) announced that people don’t have to return to the office. No, they are not fired, they have the freedom to work from anywhere. The other company Jack founded, Square, will also be a remote company from now on.
I also hear this from my friends, that they are allowed to work from home. Over the last couple of weeks, companies learned that people can handle freedom and still do their work. In most cases, people are even more efficient with their time.
Even the big old Wallstreet banks are not going back to the old world.
Who would have thought, that freedom is always the best choice?
The impact of this transition will be huge if it will last. For the time being, Zoom replaced the airlines, pretty insane:
Audio and podcasts are growing fast, the biggest reason for this is that they are easy to consume. You can’t read an article while running or driving a car. This week Joe Rogan announced he closed an exclusive deal with Spotify worth more than $100 million.
The Airpods made it even easier to consume audio. And for this reasons we will see many new developments in this space.
On the streets - especially in Asia - you see AirPods everywhere. They are so comfortable that people don’t even take them out while having a conversation. When something is always there, the friction to use it almost disappears. When voice control will advance, the friction is completely gone.
Where today scrolling is the new smoking, in the future scrolling will be replaced by constant audio consumption.
In most cases, people start a podcast to reach a new audience. Podcasts in most cases are created for niche audiences. But why shouldn’t teachers or businesses start a podcast to teach their current audience?
Information is what we understand, not what we’re told. You communicate clearly when it resolves uncertainty. This makes audio a great way to communicate. The engagement is high, but participation is low.
Also in a remote world, audio can play an important role. Since meetings are the enemy of freedom, more people will move to asynchronous communication. Audio can reduce the friction, it’s easier than recording a video and it holds more information (e.g; emotion) than the written word.
We will see a lot of new startups in the audio space. For example; how cool would it be if you could follow certain meetings of companies that inspire you to learn more in-dept how they come up with certain decisions?
Audio can be a gateway to the process, instead of the final product.
Another trend that we see is an increase in local consumption. According to research from Kantar 65% of the consumers now prefer to buy local goods and services, and 42% now pay more attention to where the goods came from.
32% of the people from the survey increased their digital spend.
The E-commerce trend and buying more local could benefit from each other, but it’s important that small businesses will deliver the same experience as the big guys. Today’s tools make that possible, its the mindset that will hold people back.
I spoke to quite some local retailers but a lot of them are not certain if they will start an online shop.
Too much of the tech world is uncertain to them, and that is the thing we humans can’t handle.
It’s the art of letting go, that will unlock new ideas.