Just one little change in the ecosystem

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I recently experienced how easily one can disrupt a stable ecosystem. And I learned the hard way how difficult it can be to re-stabilise that same ecosystem!

We have two dogs and one of them likes to socialise around the neighbourhood, and to this end she will dig amazing tunnels or climb over the high fences in our back yard.  To keep her in safely we have laid various bricks and paving stones around the perimeter of the yard.

Not long back I moved one brick from one part of the perimeter to another. Several months of chaos, escapes and tunnel digging ensued.

Just one little brick gave Trotsky the idea that escape was viable and she turned her considerable energy & intelligence to that end. The ecosystem of my backyard suffered for months following the removal of just one brick.

It’s all sorted out now.  But this got me thinking about how we often cannot see the pattern that keeps an ecosystem strong and stable.  Just one little thing that looks almost irrelevant can pull the whole thing asunder.

This is precisely the kind of thing that we are seeing in the traditional marketing ecosystem with the impact of social media and social networking.

Businesses are grappling with this problem.  They are continuing to execute the old faithful marketing plans and see them deliver less telling results than before. Debates are happening in board rooms about the importance or otherwise of the web.  And many business people think that it is all a fad that will pass like so many others.

People are using & consuming media and technology in new ways – for example a recent Nielsen study showed users want to use TV and internet simultaneously. The change is deep, and it is important because it is a social phenomenon. It is also impacted by the convergence of web and mobile phones that see traditional ways of consuming internet changing – this Pew report gives some indication of these changes.

Luc Vallee sums it up nicely in the title of his recent blog post: Moore’s Law x Metcalfe’s Law = Chaos? It all reminds me of Yeats:

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”

Time will ensure that we work out how to deal with the changes in our business ecosystem that arise from the changes in people and their use of technology. But it is these in-between times that challenge us and create fear, uncertainty and doubt.

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