The realistic pace of change

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of hearing Richard Cooperstein discuss the early days of Facebook and its global expansion. Facebook’s dominance as the world’s largest social network was anything but certain in the site’s early days. It has taken years for the network effect to build and allow Facebook to surpass localized sites like Bebo, Orkut, and hi5 in popularity.

Change takes time. What’s identified today may take months or years to materialize and become practical. The secret is to not be too early and figuratively fly too close to the sun – why do Groupon and LivingSocial work today, when Mercata and Mobshop did not – or be too late and lose all hope of catching up, like Blockbuster losing to Netflix (and Netflix almost heading too far in the opposite direction).

Change takes patience. Give up too soon and there’s money and opportunity left on the table. Long ago, I remember seeing a diagram of how RFID works in Business 2.0 magazine long ago – coincidentally produced by XPLANE who I would later be working with – a decade later, RFID is a reality on a ski slope.


Things may not always work out in their original forms. Virtual worlds and augmented reality have come and gone; 3D TV seems like a fad. But formerly shiny objects like vehicle telematics, intelligent consumer devices, and tablet computers are quietly weaving their way into our lives.

Social business, while early, has been accepted as useful mainly on faith. However, we’re seeing proof of success emerge. But I wonder what else has been dismissed too quickly that we’ll be using in 12 years as part of daily life…

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