We’re supposedly now fairly well on into a new, much vaunted ‘knowledge-based economy’, which would be ok I guess if it weren’t that most knowledge is now utterly valueless!
Goodness but that’s a big statement, but one with some foundation I believe. Consider this for logic then…
We are undoubtedly in the throes of a new ‘Internet Age’, a time of great upheaval in most things caused by the effect of the internet, World Wide Web and all that digital malarkey.
Many of the effects on business of that revolution are now legion – online shopping, mass customer advocacy, the decimation of the high street (unless you sell coffee or 2nd-hand clothing of course) and the magical introduction of lots more work that the technology was actually meant to remove from our lives!
But there are other effects that are perhaps a little more subtle and, for me, the most important is that – armed only with any online device and a web browser pointing at our good friends from Google – you can now pretty much find out anything at all about anything at all!
Why does this matter? Well it’s basic economics, supply and demand writ large. If you want something and it’s readily available then it’s not worth very much and, if that thing is knowledge and you can get access to the entire contents of the aggregated history of the human race with little more than a few clicks, taps and flicks etc then by logical extension that knowledge, in and of itself, isn’t actually worth very much anymore!
Now, the BIG problem with that conclusion is that most of us operate businesses that exist because we think we know stuff that our clients and customers don’t and that, traditionally, they pay us based on the provision of that knowledge. So, if that special and hard-to-come-by knowledge suddenly were to become ubiquitous and therefore of much reduced value, who’s going to pay for the holiday-in-the-sun fund? Scary biscuits isn’t it…!
There’s a silver lining however and it’s beautifully expressed in one of my favourite sayings of the moment: “Knowledge is knowing that the tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is understanding that it doesn’t go into a fruit salad!”
And it’s as simple as that I think. If knowing what to do is now essentially valueless, having the experience-backed wisdom to properly understand why you should or shouldn’t suddenly becomes much more important! If, overnight, all of your customers can suddenly know everything that you do, then why not reinvent yourselves as someone who not only knows the stuff but who, wisely, also understands why, why not, how best etc – understanding why your customer wants to do something and why they need you (specifically) and your assistance.
It’s a very subtle change and not one that I see a lot of local business brands and organisations recognising or communicating yet but, of course, we do understand why you should and would be very, very happy to help with that transformation…