My favorite episode of the comedy show “The Office” is Michael Scott’s lecture to college students that “real business is done on paper.”
One of the students asks Michael, “As a company that primarily distributes paper, how have you adapted your business model to function in an increasingly paperless world?”
Michael answers, “We can’t over estimate the value of computers. Yes, they are great for playing games and forwarding funny emails, but real business is done on paper.”
Michael tells the students: “Write that down!” And all the students madly take notes on their laptops.
This is a humorous exaggeration, but it makes a point we in the news media industry should not ignore.
The student’s question is something everyone in our business should ask themselves — and their teams — every day. “How are you adapting your business model in an increasingly paperless world?”
Two more big changes in technology are on the horizon — perhaps the biggest changes we’ve seen in a long time
One is 5G cellular. The other is Wi-Fi 6.
5G is basically the latest generation of cellular mobile communications. The next generation of smart phones — 5G-enabled — are supposed to be released later this year. Cisco predicts widespread adoption won’t occur for three or four years.
Or, as Cisco’s Thomas Barnett wrote, “With the potential to support 1 Gbps and ultra-low latency, 5G’s performance is anticipated by many to be a real game changer in mobile technology. By 2022, we believe 5G’s initial impact will be measurable and significant.”
But after that, it’s “Katie bar the door!”
“I have seen a lot of technological innovation in this industry over my 36-year career,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “I have yet to witness what we’re about to see in 5G. This is going to change everything.” He spoke in late February on Fox Business.
The amount and speed of data that 5G will deliver will be at least three to five times — maybe more — current 4G (4th generation) technology that most of us now use
Experts say 5G’s speed, reliability and lack of latency will unlock new capabilities such as self-driving cars, remote medicine and “alwaysconnected” smart appliances. New industries will emerge because of this new technology (just as Google, Facebook and Apple emerged shortly after the advent of the World Wide Web).
Governments will be pushing this technology. “U.S. leadership in 5G technology is a national imperative for economic growth and competitiveness,” said Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. The U.S. and China are supposed to be in a race to dominate 5G technology.
On top of 5G, Wi-Fi 6 will bring us a major upgrade in how data is exchanged on local area networks. Wi-Fi 5 basically assumed casual use of the Internet with far more downloading of information that uploading. Wi-Fi 6 allows for an equal amount of and downloading of data.
The new Wi-Fi technology is expected to be four to ten times faster than current standards allow.
The combination of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 — and related technology — will open up an enormous range of products and services to be handled over the internet.
This brings us back to the basic question: “Mr. Scott (or insert your own name), how is your business adapting?”
As technology changes, companies need to adapt to survive.
We need to understand both the technology and how our customers will be impacted by these changes. We need to watch how new disruptors will use this technology to try to control markets.
Technologists — and their market departments — talk in terms of first, second, third, fourth and now fifth generations.
But what generation is your thinking?
Are you giving thought to what the world — and your audiences and competitors — will look like in 2025?
What are you doing to adapt?
Are you adapting?