Communication has a very interesting history. When laid out in four separate dimensions, as I will do here, it can be seen how radically mobile communications has affected our civilization.
First Dimension: Ancient Trade
If we go back to the beginning of mankind’s history, people were nomads. Then some stopped moving about and put down roots, and became farmers. Around the time of the Bronze Age, roads were built and traveled between settlements, mainly for the purpose of trade—and that was our communication. For the most part, communication was conducted live and in person between people who had traveled. You could send written communication to someone, but it could take months to arrive.
Second Dimension: Ships
We come up the line a few thousand years and we come to the era of ships. Sailing was a whole technology developed over a thousand years or so, that came to fruition during the age of exploration in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We know the names of the most famous explorers—for example, Drake, Columbus, Da Gama, and Cook. Europe was the center of this period, as all of these explorers set out from, and returned to, Europe.
Third Dimension: Air
When we move up to the twentieth century, people finally take to the air. It was immediately evident that fixed-wing flight could make communication easy and fast, and it indeed has changed everything.
A side note is that following World War II, we were left with so many airplanes and so many airfields (airports) that we needed to figure out what to do with them. The result of that “figuring” was the passenger aircraft industry, which really took hold by 1950. That year alone, just in the US, there were already some 500 million people traveling by plane. Today, just 40 years later, it’s closer 900 million. Of course globally that figure is 3.8 billion.
But strictly in the communication arena, the third dimension was air.
It’s interesting to note that summing up these first three dimensions, the first one took about 5,000 years, the second about 500 years, and the third a mere 50 years.
Fourth Dimension: Mobile
Now we come to a drastic paradigm shift in communication…and for this one we don’t need to go anywhere or hardly even move. Now in a mobile-enabled society, a communication today is instant, made anywhere in the world to any other part of the world.
Another interesting comparison between the different dimensions is to note the winners in each one:
- In the first dimension, the winners were very definitely the traders.
- In the second dimension, the winners were the nations: Spain, Portugal, England, and Italy.
- In the third dimension, the winners were the global companies.
- But in the fourth dimension, the winner can be anyone. It could even be a small company that develops an app that suddenly takes off like a rocket.
I strongly believe that in this fourth dimension, small companies have a disruptive energy to bring about changes even on an unthinkable level. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos recently remarked that even Amazon could be unseated today.
Another very interesting point about the fourth dimension is that, for the first time in history, we are no longer dependent on time or location. The sun never sets on a company today. As an example, my company is a truly virtual enterprise, with employees all over the world. Thanksgiving, which just occurred, is not a working day in the U.S., so our U.S. employees were off that day. But because we have employees in other countries where Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated, as a company we were still open.
Not only can we work wherever we like, but also whenever we like—it’s up to us. The only physical communication is between you and the servers. This technology obviously gives people a whole new freedom they didn’t have before.
No Turning Back
For everyone—companies and individuals alike—there is no turning back. The mobile platform is here to stay, and will only grow exponentially.
Carrying a mobile device is what enables us in today’s world. There are apps for literally everything. For example, when traveling, you must understand the culture, the language, where you’re going, and the currency and exchange rates. In years past, all of these things were headaches, problems to be dealt with. Today with a smartphone and applications, they can be dealt with in seconds. You can access and read all about a culture. You can translate words or phrases from one language into yours and vice versa. You can instantly find out an exchange rate. You can discover exactly where you are, and obtain directions to anywhere you want to go. You can find hours of operation for attractions or restaurants. Your mobile device can even navigate for you when you walk.
Problems which were painfully difficult over thousands of years can today be solved instantly—with that mobile device you hold right in your hand.
In today’s fourth dimension of communication, mobile adoption is totally crucial—and anyone who doesn’t adopt or who ignores the trends is committing a grave error.