Sometimes, when we are so consumed in managing our day-to-day lives, we fail to realize major changes that are occurring underneath our feet. I believe we are at one of those times right now. If we observe the technology revolution of the past 20 years at the macro level, we can see that Internet technology generations have each run for about 8-10 years. We are now starting the third generation of the Internet Revolution… Web 3.0.
In 1995 Web 1.0 was ushered in when the Netscape IPO caught the world's attention in August of that year. The dot-com era began and e-commerce was established as the foundation of the New Economy. The economy and the stock markets soared for five years and then… just when we began to believe in the permanence of our technological alchemy… the natural tendency of markets to return to equilibrium asserted itself and we experienced a very painful shake-out now known as the dot-com bust.
By the mid-2000s the fall-out was behind us. It felt very much like the technology revolution had successfully ingrained e-commerce in a comfortable co-existence with traditional "bricks and mortar" business. End of story; technology revolution complete… or so it seemed.
It was just at that time that social media… Web 2.0… was emerging, though most of us failed to see it as a new generation of Internet technology. LinkedIn was launched in May 2003, Facebook was started in 2004 and Twitter was formed in 2006. But, they all appeared to be more novelty than the beginning of a fundamental shift in the way we interact with others. (Who cared that we could broadcast to the world what we had for breakfast?) Nevertheless, by the middle of the decade these core social media platforms were catching on with early adopters. Today social media is a fixture in the way we conduct our daily lives as consumers and it is transforming the way businesses interact with customers.
Our adoption of social media was a big driver in producing demand for smartphones in the later years of the early 2000s since the mobile platform is better suited to its conversational nature. This has, in turn, laid the foundation for the next generation of the Internet Revolution, Web 3.0. We are now in the very early stage of its development, about where we were with social media around 2003/04.
The mobile technology platform will serve as the centerpiece for Web 3.0, the so-called Internet of Things. Machines and assets will communicate (likely using social media) with each other and their managers. The interaction will be one-way at first. Assets will be identified by scanning bar codes or RFID tags and databases of information will be created around them to provide owners with information about their manufacture or location. Our portfolio company, ICT, is doing this right now. ICT offers systems for recording quality control information about concrete and steel structures manufactured for the construction of tunnels, bridges, and railroad tracks. An RFID tag is inserted in the process of manufacture and the QC information is recorded in a database. At any time the RFID tag is scanned, the database is automatically recalled and the owner can use it for location searching, proactive maintenance or trouble shooting.
As Web 3.0 evolves, one-way communication will be replaced by two-way communications through which sensors provide feedback that is communicated over the Internet to asset managers and owners. Another portfolio company of ours, Outerlink, is already providing this service for managers of helicopters, ambulances and other mobile assets.
Perhaps the biggest boon to the evolution of Web 3.0 is currently coming from GE, which has publicly staked its future on creating the Industrial Internet to enable jet engines, medical imaging devices and the like to routinely communicate performance data. GE's Chief Marketing Officer, Beth Comstock, discusses GE's plans in this video... a worthwhile investment of 15 minutes to understand the scope of this opportunity to GE and our economy.
It is my view that Web 3.0 will likely be viewed in hindsight as the essence of the Internet Revolution and will have the biggest impact of the three Web generations on our economic productivity. The potential is vast and the opportunities abundant… very timely for a country searching for ways to provide renewed economic leadership in the world.
You can view this Blog post and read more thought analysis blog posts written by Jeff Polluck By visiting the MB Growth Partners, LLC; The Market Rules Blog Now!