I recently attended a local GLI event that featured Steve Case, Co-Founder and former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of America Online. Steve was a true internet pioneer and, from the tone of his discussion, he seemed very passionate about passing his torch of experience to the next generation of forward-thinking entrepreneurs.
The focal point of the discussion was around his book “The Third Wave.” The concept for his book was inspired by Alvin Toffler, who published a book with the same title in 1980. Toffler’s book describes three types of societies, based on the concept of ‘waves’—each wave pushes the older societies and cultures aside.
- The First Wave is the settled agricultural society.
- The Second Wave is Industrial Age society. The Second Wave began in Western Europe with the Industrial Revolution, and subsequently spread across the world.
- The Third Wave is the post-industrial society. Toffler says that since the late 1950’s, most countries have been transitioning from a Second Wave society into a Third Wave society. He coined many words to describe it and mentions names invented by others, such as the Information Age.
Today’s Three Waves
Case’s book also has three waves, with the Information Age being the first wave, in which the ground work and infrastructure is built to support this new information highway known as the Internet.
The Second Wave is creating and developing all the technology that resides on the Internet that our society uses to connect and improve lifestyles. Technology such as apps, social networks, smart phones, tablets, etc…
Case’s Third Wave is more about applying the Internet and technology, including AI (artificial intelligence) to solve important issues such as hunger, disease, crime, etc… It will also have a great impact on healthcare, transportation, finance, education, agriculture, and manufacturing.
The Third Wave
“The Third Wave of the Internet will be defined not by the Internet of Things; it will be defined by the Internet of Everything. We are entering a new phase of technological evolution, a phase where the Internet will be fully integrated into every part of our lives.” – Steve Case
Why does this Third Wave matter to your organization or small business? It’s not just coming, it is here, and as it gains momentum, every economic sector is at risk of being disrupted. Therefore, the better we understand the possible implications to our respective industries, the more prepared we’ll be to embrace the changes and leverage the opportunities. Just like at the beginning of the Information Age (Case’s First Wave) there are many challenges from the drastic shifts in the marketplace landscape. However, there are also huge opportunities for those that are brave enough to ride this wave. More importantly, there’s never been more opportunities for forward-thinking entrepreneurs and small businesses to change the world for the better. Or at least put a dent in it.