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The “Instant Future” of Enterprise Economy

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There’s a good argument to be made for the fact that tech’s true value lies in its ability to save users time. Way back in 1440, for instance, the printing press unlocked an ability to produce multiple copies of manuscripts every week, rather than the previous 1-2 that might be produced by handwritten transcription each year. Then, in the 19th century, we saw even more leaps, with machine-powered transportation taking us further and faster than ever before. And today—in what is undoubtedly our greatest feat—we can see a piping hot chimichanga delivered to our home within minutes.

 

Our expectations for technology have evolved during this time, and—in recent years—have hit a peak, giving way to what many have dubbed “The Instant Gratification Economy.” Dan Primacy of Fortune describes the phenomenon well:

 

“As time becomes a more and more precious commodity — particularly with technology blurring many of our home/work lines of demarcation — it isn’t surprising that we continue to ask technology to take over some of our more mundane tasks (particularly if that technology creates new service jobs).Yes, there can be inherent value in doing things for yourself, but there also can be more value in spending 15 extra minutes in the office or playing with your kid or sleeping. Picking up your own dry-cleaning isn’t exactly the same as learning to fish.”

 

With the final days of the year now seeping away, we’ve been contemplative about the areas most affected by this revolution in 2015. Below are our top three trends to predict the “instant future” of the instant enterprise economy:

 

Social Interaction

 

While it might surprise some younger readers, the search for “community” and “belonging” once actually required leaving home. Today, by contrast, we’re always just a few taps on a smartphone from accessing huge pools of like-minded individuals. The actions and reactions on social media, and similar platforms, are instant in themselves; nearly split-second thought processes allow people to tap into various networks and communities. 

 

To really drive this home, note that—in January of this year—Facebook’s monthly active user count passed the population of China, giving it more constituents than any country on earth. Over just the past half century or so, the world became one in which many relationships (including romantic ones) have been forged exclusively through digital media.

 

The Internet of Things

 

The realization of greater efficiency often hinges on multiple moving pieces. As such—and to help unify the resources at our disposal—technologies are now increasingly trying to connect with each other to maximize relational value.

 

Using our smartphone as a sensor, for instance, thermostats like Nest can now better manage residential climate control with limited human interaction (and while saving a ton of money).

 

Transportation

 

It’s hard to talk about any “instant economy” without noting the ubiquitous success of Uber. By allowing people to instantly crowdsource transportation, the company has created access to work for tens of thousands, while adding convenience and fair pricing for riders.

 

But beyond human transportation, the desire for instant gratification has also pushed delivery systems to new heights, with many—especially those in urban areas—able to see food or product deliveries less than ten minutes after an order has been placed. What’s more, companies like Amazon are now pledging rapid drone delivery options, which seemingly lack only government approval to be ready for deployment.

 

As Primack notes in his piece, however, the search for efficiency isn’t really “new”—it’s just that today’s resources allow us to chase this goal more often, and in more spaces. As such, it’s an “itch” we’re likely to continue scratching for years to come.

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