Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

Could it be true that what is new for you was normal for others?

The change we were ignoring is that the world has become connected. Do not give too much credit to the pandemic for all the shift. More than half of humankind was online much before the COVID-19 pandemic. By 2020, 4.2 billion people were already connected, and 3.4 billion publicly sharing their personal information with the world. The pandemic served as a tipping point for those leaders who were living in denial.

Much before the pandemic, the internet and social media had changed the world.

The largest transportation company did not come up with the idea of Uber. The traditional taxi system started to crumble Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp founded Uber. It is hard to believe that a software app started in San Francisco would allow driver recruitment and customers to order cab services online. By November 2015, Uber was valued at USD 70 billion USD and spread to over 250 cities worldworld.

Successful hotels like Hyatt or Marriott did not feel the need to introduce Airbnb. Retailers like Kmart or Walmart did not feel the necessity to experiment with online shopping. Yet Amazon survived the dot-com bubble burst by becoming a significant player in online shopping.

Restaurants had started to change the way they were serving their customers. Starbucks launched its mobile ordering app in 2015. McDonald’s started rolling out ordering kiosks in 2016.

The banking sector was experiencing change. In 2015, Atom Bank received its banking license in the UK. This digital-only bank launched a mobile app. The bank had no physical branches or bank tellers was a move away from traditional brick-and-mortar banking. Atom Bank was using the Google cloud platform to keep pace with its growth. By 2017, it became the most preferred bank in the UK. The first “mobile-only bank” was the Uber of banking.

People were making a purchase decision based on online customer reviews. 60% of the purchase decision was being completed online even before a customer contacted the company. Shopping had become the third most popular use of smart technology. People sitting in church pews were already fact-checking what preachers said on their smartphones.

We were getting clear signals before the pandemic. Some church or charity leaders chose to ignore these signs. The irony is that many successful organizations do not feel the need to bend the curve. We should have been noticing what others were already doing. We choose not to.

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