You’ve Got Mail

6/15/2016 11:31:37 AM  -  0 Comments


 Kent_Oyler pic

 By: Kent Oyler, President & CEO of Greater Louisville Inc. 

Internet pioneers over 50 can recall being excited when the computer chimed “you’ve got mail”.  We actually looked forward to reading emails.  Today, of course email runs through SPAM, virus, and known sender filters.  Audible notifications and flags are turned off, texts are blocked, and answering non-critical messages is relegated to muted conference calls. Twenty years after AOL made it popular, there is no respite from the relentless barrage of asynchronous communication (email, text, AIM, SnapChats, etc.). 

Thirty years ago companies like AOL, Cisco, RoadRunner, and Apple began building public onramps to the Internet.  This was the infrastructure-building first wave that focused on getting people to move from dial-up to high-speed cable, DSL and wireless Internet access. In my mid-career, I co-founded two broadband companies (one is now part of Charter Communications) which played a role in bringing always-on high speed Internet to homes and businesses.  Our goal back then was, to quote the Eagles, “Everything, all the time.”

In 2000, the bubble burst and soon after, the second wave of the Internet rolled in.  It was based on mobility, ecommerce, and apps.  Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, Uber, and countless others strived to exploit the privately funded and operated Internet.  Some of their application platforms and hardware were good enough to change industries; just look what the ‘cloud’, social networks, and iPhones have done to newspapers, the USPS, taxis, hotels, and dating.

As disruptive as the second wave has been for business and society, a third wave is now upon us.  Building upon the first two waves, the third wave is far more powerful.  It carries opportunities and threats for every business, government, and non-profit.  Today, ubiquitous smart phones interact with each other with the 20+ billion smart sensors of the ‘internet of things’.  The third wave is powered by artificial intelligence software, infinite computing, and Moore’s Law. It will rapidly give rise to revolutionary changes across entire real-world sectors like: healthcare, education, energy, and transportation – all at accelerating speeds.  Such rapid and broad economic and societal change may sound futuristic or even unlikely, but it is not.  The third wave is here in 2016 and we all need to be prepared to respond both offensively and defensively.

The first step to riding the third wave to success (or avoid being crushed) is awareness.  There are a few good books that lay out the factors in the emerging business models of the immediate future, including Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail, which I’ve bought by the dozens to hand out.  Another is The Third Wave by AOL Founder Steve Case.  What I like about Case’s scenario for the future is what he calls “The Rise of the Rest” where tech-enabled industries can flourish where they are already clustered; they don’t need to all be in Silicon Valley or Boston.  Greater Louisville has strong industry clusters in long-term aging care, logistics, business services, food & beverage, and advanced manufacturing that are well positioned to ride this third wave.

Concerned, or maybe just intrigued?  I invite you to join me at 5:00 PM on June 16th at the PNC Club at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to hear directly from Steve Case about The Third Wave.  You’ll even get a free copy of his book.  Register here. Don’t ever say you weren’t warned – You’ve got mail!




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