Like any endeavor, trade has evolved through time, and has passed through stages. Because each stage contributes to the current state of trade, a way to refer to each of these stages is as dimensions. Each dimension contributes and becomes a foundation for the next.
In our first Dimensions of Trade blog post we covered the first 2 dimensions of trade: the ancient trade routes–the Silk Road and the Amber Road–and the great sailing ships that finally came to prominence in the 1500s. In our second post, we took off into the 3rd dimension–that of commercial air. In our last post, we highlighted the 4th dimension into which we’ve now come: the mobile society.
So now where are we headed? One thing is clear: We can never turn back. We now have an integrated global economy that is growing far too rapidly and strongly to reverse. That economy includes a burgeoning population that never ceases to grow–in the next 25 years we will have 2 billion more people.
Challenges of Today and the Future
In our last blog we covered the mobile society. The mobile society has already come about and will only progress, as seen in companies such as Brown, Boveri, Accenture, and my own Pipeliner Sales. None of these companies have a headquarters, and have large staffs located throughout the globe. It is obvious that in the future a person will be able to live just about anywhere they like, as they will be virtually employed.
There are new challenges to the mobile society. For example wherever you move, especially if it is to an entirely different country with a whole different culture, you must learn the language and how to function within the culture. If you wanted to move to the Spanish island of Ibiza, you would need to learn at least passing Spanish and enough about the culture of the island to get along there.
Businesses crossing cultural boundaries must do the same thing–they must be able to contextualize their offerings within the cultures in which they are selling.
At the same time, though, the internet and a global digital economy have brought about a global culture that we are now all participating in. Take a step back, and you’ll realize that there are commonalities throughout the world that cross even language barriers. A prime example is the fact that we’re all using the same technology. We now do all our business primarily through 2 operating systems: Windows and Mac. They don’t even battle anymore–companies and individuals have simply adapted one or the other. Everywhere around the world, people are using the same tools so they can talk to each other.
This global culture is even obvious in entertainment. Throughout the world, we’re watching many of the same movies. Certainly there are country-local films in France or India, but at the same time in those countries people are watching Star Wars and Mission: Impossible. When Disney has a major release, it is rolled out with a worldwide campaign. There is also worldwide merchandising of products related to these movies.
Music, too, crosses these boundaries. While there are local artists everywhere, there are also artists that are heard all over the world, thanks to the internet.
This is certainly different from our first Dimension of Trade, in which Marco Polo was traveling from land to land, encountering so many distinctly different cultures and languages, some of which never interacted with each other. Now a Starbucks barista in Indiana and a tribesman in Africa can trade pictures on the same mobile platform.
And that, I believe, is the final challenge before us now–at least for the time being: we need to view the world as universal. It’s a big challenge for us all, and a big challenge for sales. But it’s also a huge opportunity for sales when people the world over have much the same view: they’re buying many of the same things.
And perhaps we can end there with the name of the 5th Dimension of Trade: the Dimension of Endless Possibility.