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The third wave evolution of the Internet is upon us

The growth of the internet has tracked two distinct phases. The first was the creation and buildout of the physical infrastructure and the second, around the turn of the 21st century, when companies like Google et al. helped people make sense of the vast amounts of data the internet offered.

The third phase, we are entering this period now, is where the internet leaps beyond, PCs, tablets and mobile phones and becomes connected everywhere and to everything. Some call it the internet of things, but it remains a critical third phase in the evolution of the internet.

The first wave of the internet was about infrastructure and only really impacted academia and indeed the army as few people saw any point in having a joined up data network. People just thought it had no real purpose and would not catch on. (Chuckles)

The second wave saw realisation and the commercialisation of the internet. Businesses, individuals, nations and services all become digitised headed online.

In the third wave, the implications for change are profound and go way beyond the combined impact of all internet development to date. No founder, CEO, entrepreneur can operate alone without the support from Governments around the world.

Education, food, healthcare, transportation and money are all on the horizon for being disrupted and digitised by the third wave of the internet. From driverless cars to live personal health monitoring; the implications, risks and potential benefits are so far-reaching that policy, legislation are all going to need to be addressed, modernised and updated.

Disruption is an inevitable part of the third wave that companies must embrace to succeed.

In the wake of the third wave, ideas will continue to come from unexpected places, causing disruption that entrepreneurs should embrace. These changes will lead to old ways of working being shifted or destroyed, which means success will only cometo those who take risks and recognise future opportunities.

The self-driving car is a perfect example of an innovative idea that emerged from a surprising place – in this case, the agricultural sector.

According to Steve Case, author of The Third Wave, a book originally published by Alvin Toffler in 1980, cites: “Companies like Google and Uber who are now embracing this technology, actually goes back 20 years, when the tractor company John Deere developed GPS navigation systems for self-driving tractors.

Unfortunately, John Deere didn’t see the real potential of their innovative idea. Had they been willing to take a chance and disrupt their business model for something new, who knows what level of success they would have achieved.”

Building strong partnerships and credibility will be essential for third-wave entrepreneurs.

Companies like Google and Amazon born out of the second wave of the internet managed to become what feels comparative ‘overnight’ sensations. While this method proved successful in the past, it won’t work in the third wave.

Like companies during the first wave, innovative third-wave companies need to build strong partnerships with industry gatekeepers. Otherwise, these established corporations may regard new entrepreneurs as competition.

So, to follow this proven path to success, third-wave entrepreneurs will have to make early partnerships build credibility and gain momentum to win over the gatekeepers.

Working closely with the government will be especially important for future entrepreneurs.

Case claims that: “Success in the third wave of the information age doesn’t only depend on finding like-minded business partners. Entrepreneurs will also need to work with the government. After all, the government has always played a crucial role in innovation.

Government organisations routinely take risks by funding research, supporting projects and ideas that the private sector won’t or can’t touch. In fact, without federal assistance, many of today’s technologies wouldn’t exist.

So, to ensure both short-term and long-term success, future innovators must work hand in hand with the government to make sure that they’re operating within the bounds of legislation. This kind of relationship can even help pave the way for future laws and policies.”

These are fascinating times.

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