The On Demand Economy – The Emerging Economic Model?

By February 9, 2013Search Engines, Thoughts

This is less about SEO and search marketing than I normally talk about, however much in the same way as digital marketing is part of the digital revolution I think it’s important as a freelance seo consultant to be knowledgeable about the things going on around us and those potential future trends.

Economists argue that we’ve moved through a number of phases of economic development and at the moment we are in the Post-Fordist economy. Essentially that means that we have a flexible manufacturing process, we can manufacture things in small batches, where the emphasis is placed on the type of consumers the manufacturing process targets as opposed to the social class of the target audience.

With the digital revolution and the development of technologies such as 3D printing I believe we are moving towards a new economic model I tend to call the On-Demand Economy.

What is the On-Demand Economy?

We are still very much in the post-fordist economy at the moment, although there are plenty of indications that this is an intermediary period between Fordism and the next economic model which I believe will On-Demand – or maybe we’ll just call it the Digital economy?

I’ve mentioned a couple of technologies that I believe represent the biggest opportunities, and I won’t explore them in too much detail other than to say the economic model changes when a technology comes about that reduces the size of the world (not literally). So if you think about what roads did, what canals did, railways, plans and eventually the internet, all of these things reduced the perception of the size of the world meaning that the economy could happen faster.

The internet is the latest advancement and you might think that means technology has made the world instant, but it’s not really because we’ve still got one barrier to overcome, namely physically getting things from one place to another.

In the on-demand economy products arrive at your door same day, you order a shirt from a national brand where their stores are acting as their virtual warehouse. On the internet same-day delivery is bound to be the next big change in the way we shop, it’s just going to take the big brands to sort out their supply network before they can begin to use their highstreet dominance (which has previously been a burden in the internet age) to their advantage over their smaller, leaner competitors.

OK – so that’s only half the battle, if you order something online it’s got to be manufactured somewhere and then transported around the world. For the past few thousand of years and certainly in the last 500 years there has been a migration of the economic dominance by states – or larger but linked groupings – from one group of workers to the next. Originally this happened on a local basis as specialised products that could only be found locally either ran out or faced pressure from another location. This then determines labour’s earning potential in an area.

The new technology that promises to put an end to this migration of labour value is the 3D printing – well, I’m not sure we’ve got the technology yet, maybe we should call it the son of 3D printing, this technology promises to produce whatever you’re looking for, when you want it, locally, without the need to set up a big manufacturing plant. There is a chance that this technology could become desktop in the future as well – something that every home will have perhaps?

This technology provides an interesting look into the future, one in which wage labour values come in line, a time where there is no specialisations of nations in manufacturing certain types of products.

This type of technology would be incredibly disruptive, it would shut down in a matter of years a number of aspects of the economy, the most important members of the labourforce would be product designers. There would be very little need for most of the websites out there and buying and selling goods to sell on in the traditional sense would be virtually meaningless. There would probably be an increased desire for hand crafted good so it may be that we would see a flourishing of artisanship (something we are starting to see in the developed economies). So there would be some requirements for finding services such as seo however it’s far more likely these types of products will be the kind of things that will work better over the social platform.

A lot of this is silly speculation – maybe a bit of drivel but it’s interesting none-the-less to try and think about where the technology we see around us an take for granted every day is actually taking us.

Fundamentally, I view the internet as being the second consumer revolution, one which mimics the development of the high street but in fast forward (and possibly to the detriment of the high street) where as same day delivery coupled with same day manufacturing could see the internet significantly reduced and see the economy of the world massively change.

 

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