In the “old days,” when I first started my career, information truly was power, as the old axiom promised. It was difficult to get information, so companies hired third-party services to research and compile all sorts of data. Larger companies could afford these channels of information and therefore had an advantage over competitors on the current and future state of their businesses.
After firms corralled this information, there were teams of young interns (like me) to analyze, compare and contrast the findings with competitors, with other categories and with the state of the economy. The term “analysis paralysis” was in vogue because industry captains tended not to make decisions until this precious data was found and analyzed ad nauseum.
Our education system, too, was centered around the gathering and memorization of particulars. It was easier to test someone on regurgitating facts than on taking the facts and understanding how they fit the context around a problem.
Then came the Internet.
The stream of information from the internet has been compared to a fire hose. Information gathering is no longer tedious nor expensive. Anyone with access to the Internet has equal access to information–it’s no longer an elite activity, restricted to those who can pay for data, nor to those who have spent a lifetime acquiring the information and molding it into knowledge.
Want to know the per capita income of Finnish citizens so that you can decide whether or not to launch your new product to this audience? You no longer have to call a research librarian at a major library nor the Finnish embassy and wait days for someone to confirm the latest statistics. Instead, you can find the answer yourself ($37,000) in less than a minute on the internet.
Want to know what marketing programs your competitors are running? You no longer have to subscribe to a media measurement service and wait for the quarterly books. Instead, you can just look on the competitor’s website or Facebook page.
Want some advice from industry experts? You no longer have to attend prestigious conferences nor wait for them to retire and publish their memoirs to get inside tips. Instead, you can follow the experts’ twitter feeds or webinars online.
As a result of this overabundance of intelligence, many of us are now suffering from information overload.
So what’s next in the information age? Since we can find virtually any information that we want, the premium is now placed on filtering, vetting and being creative with information. Marketing that connects consumers with products and services that they want or need–without making them drink from the fire hose for every purchase–will be the champion.
The simplest solution is often regarded as the best. In our current state of information overload, maybe a reliable drinking fountain is what we really need.
Are you still drinking from the fire hose of information?