Technology connects and enables. With an internet connection and a cheap device I can source supply, set up a channel to market, and fulfil all my legal obligations as a new business in a matter of hours.
The only thing I can’t do (in the UK at least) is set up a business bank account, but even that will get there eventually.
Fundamentally it’s easier to connect the dots than it ever has been, so more people do.
People start new businesses of their own. The number is perhaps inversely proportional to the ease (including the capital cost) of setting up: just look how many freelancers/agencies there are now. But in just about every sector I’ve looked at, whatever the barriers to entry, there are more players because those barriers to entry are falling.
People also extend their reach, across physical borders and up and down the value chain. If they sold only locally, they start to sell nationally and internationally. People who sold through channels start to sell direct. People who were customers start to explore building their own services or supply. The low cost of access to new channels enables peoples to discover and explore new verticals and niches, bringing their flavour of competition to markets that might have been closed in the past.
And all the time the channels to market themselves are proliferating: web, mobile, social, gaming. Endless television channels, both on and off line. Print hasn’t died and yet its ‘replacements’ number in their millions.
I’ve seen this trend in one form or another in just about every market I’ve examined. I call it Diversity, one of the five vectors of technology-driven change. I’ll be writing about the other four in the next few posts.