Don Tapscott, business consultant and author of “Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs,” says that it’s a mistake to discount the power of the Internet based on the bursting of the tech bubble: “There is a real danger that people will decide to throw out the Internet baby with the dot-com bath water. This is a big mistake, and punishment is proving to be very swift for companies that fall into this trap. We’re not at the end of the Internet revolution; we’re at the very beginning.” Tapscott says the next phase of the Internet revolution will be driven by an explosion of “smart” devices and new users, combined with ever-expanding bandwidth, which will vastly increase businesses’ ability to foster relationships with their customers, suppliers and employees.
In fact, these tech-enabled relationships “are quickly becoming a new form of wealth, a new form of capital,” says Tapscott. “They behave like other assets in some ways—you can build them, manage them, perhaps even monetize them—but they also behave differently than other assets. For example, most assets *depreciate* the more you use them, whereas relationships seem to *appreciate* the more you use them. The more you develop relationships, the more valuable they become. So we have to think about the architecting of relationships, and the technologies that enable companies to build those relationships, as being central to competitive advantage and business strategy.”