I'm walking in Montreal - looking at the buildings around me - all of which are at once historic and modern. The City is vibrant and alive with activity - no signs of a recession here.
There are bikes sponsored by the city that anyone with a credit card can use for 30 min for free. This is a place that has started to connect to a new model from and ancient history. A place where history has been preserved and upgraded to a modern stability - where the cross-communication between French culture and language to those of English is just a way of life - the natural way of connecting in a multi-cultural structure.
All of this strikes me as I continue to walk through this beautiful city.
With the global economic shake up, organizations the world over have either crumbled or rest on shaky ground. How will they cross the chasm from the old to the new structures of business and communication? How are connections being built to reshape the world after the global economic earthquake that will ensure a more sound business model that is engineered for a future? All this, especially now knowing that the world's economy can be shaken at the core and tear apart the financial fabric and structures we took for granted?
Today, buyer uncertainty is at an all time high. Consumers, investors, and the remaining public that has regrouped (for now), have kept their jobs or kept their financial security somewhat in tact, are now looking for solid position, while wary of the likelihood of an aftershock.
Where does that leave the economics, the structures of business, and consumers after the economic landslide? Where will they find stability to build upon on both sides of the buyer/seller equation?
In a more stable, long-established time where business as usual was the order of the day, sellers sold and buyers bought. Information was peripheral, marketing promises were information to be trusted and counted on. This was the old structure, the historic building of communication for buyers and sellers, the order of the day. It was fine on both sides of the buy/sell model - perhaps even preferred. It was fast and superficial - more like a date than a relationship. It worked. It was functional - if not completely stable, like an old building before an earthquake hit.
The business model was all about creating imagination and image - all that was required for a buyer or investor to "feel good" about, well, buying. Not anymore. Glossy just doesn't cut it. Like a house of cards, the papers and magazines - sellers of information (read: advertisements) - have come crashing down along with the markets. Such is the fate of the traditional model of buyer/seller information pushing.
The marketing media could not hold up to the fundamental change in business as a result of today's shaky economic environment.
The information-era business of today is forming with tough questions and online conversations about the information sellers use to "sell" - what buyers, investors, bankers expect.
Sellers need to be rebuild their models. They need to add more than another web image or magazine ad to their infrastructure. Buyers and bankers are going to demand a deep understanding and solid foundation on which to base their decisions.
This isn't a bad evolution from the economic earthquake. On the contrary, it's a seismic upgrade that will build stronger businesses, better fundamental transactions, and relationships between buyers and sellers - in short, a better information network. Core structures that extend beyond glossy facades and create a sustainable model are the next step in the evolution of a more solid, stable, economic structure. This is the seismic upgrade to the entire structure we depend on - like taking a historic district in a downtown area and making it suitable for living and office spaces again. Old warehouses converted for new uses. This is how our Connected Market Space evolution in commerce and communication today is rebuilding the process of buying and selling in complex markets like real estate, mortgage banking and health care.
We will see more market-based pricing, more of an auction model, open and exposed - rather than one-sided price setting and big commission margins, as in real estate. There will be better two-way communication. Buyers will ask, sellers better have answers-I coined a phrase called "conversation marketing" about 5 years ago. It's here. One-sided storytelling to buyers is over. That might be fine for kindergarten-aged picture books. But today, buyers have graduated and are asking tough questions that go beyond the gloss.
The fundamental shift is a foundation based on a solid "connection" between the buyers and sellers - and the facilitators of the deals (e.g. The bankers). This Connected Market Space is a fundamental seismic upgrade where new foundations are set. And it's about time.
My generation was one of buyers. Sellers and news print media told their version if the story and marketing or PR for profit, not information. It was a structure built long before I was alive.
Einstein once observed in the 1920's "...the media in this country has far too much power to shape public opinion..." a comment during prohibition Einstein made on the restriction of the "public house" - the natural collectives of pubs and local social places where people relaxed with a drink, their guard eased, and their freedom to express and comment open.
History has a funny way of teaching us about re-inventing Life as we know it. While the connections brought about by the internet are not necessarily a "public house," it is a public forum where people more freely talk or ask questions, share opinions openly. What Einstein was referring is what any robust social structure needs - economics, social connections, whose roots depend on open communication.
The media, the corporate lobbies, the legal maneuverings of the last nine decades are the walls that are crumbling in this old, rickety house we call today's economy. The public prohibition on access to information from price to performance and politics is emerging everywhere.
Look at what Napster in the '90's did for Apple and iTunes. What the AT&T breakup in the '80's is doing in the form of Skype today. What Wikipedia did to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
The prohibition is broken, the walls are coming down - true connections to a better model are being formed. The "speak easy" of the 1920's was a precipitator of the breaking of prohibition. Then came the Great Depression. Then came "The New Deal".
These are a few examples of the early successes of the Connected Market Space of people re-engineering industry through today's social networks - through communication and technology. In the '20's and '30's a new model took shape and changed the face of the global economy for the next seven decades. Funny how history repeats itself.
Watch how this evolution unfolds in the next decade...