The future is here!

Automated relationships, social media and new purchasing patterns. For companies that make use of new digital tools, there are major opportunities to develop new services and become established in new markets. The words of Internet entrepreneur Ola Ahlvarsson.

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Ola Ahlvarsson was involved in the development of a number of internet-based companies during the 1990s. Among others things, he was one of the founders of the e-commerce company Boxman, which started up in 1997.

In the past, a shop owner could sell to anyone able to come to their shop. With globalization and modern technology, in theory the same shop owner can sell to everyone in the world. But at the same time also compete with the whole world. 
Those companies that recognise the opportunities and invest have a global arena with vast potential, while those who stay with old, inefficient models are not particularly attractive to either customers or employees.
“Those who dare and understand, and who are fortunate, can create virtually anything. And those who make the wrong choice face a really tough time as things change.”

Music industry a good example
Ola Ahlvarsson cites the music industry as an example of an industry that has made more progress than others in its digitalisation. Developments have moved from vinyl records to digital CDs, after which pirated versions threatened to sink the industry completely. But since Spotify came along, the good times have returned. Suddenly profitability is better, music is more accessible and more people than ever are listening to music.
Spotify is also an example of more people in younger generations wanting to own the right to do something instead of owning the actual things. We can listen to music, but we don’t own it. Car pools are another example, where you buy the right to use a car without owning it.
“Industry after industry is being transformed and anyone who’s running a business, not just Internet companies, must prepare for a much more connected society.”

Recommendations are passed on quickly
Even now, consumers are influenced much sooner by what other people are buying, and that’s something that will increase, according to Ola Ahlvarsson.
“We’re living in a global village where recommendations and other people’s experiences are passed on quickly. In future, customers will be even more knowledgeable.”
The fact that electronic payments via mobile phones are increasing rapidly also affects purcha- sing patterns. As well as making payments easier, the mobile phone is also taking on an even more social role. Your friends will be able to see what you’re buying and where. Shops also know who you are and what you’ve bought in the past, and they can send tips straight to your mobile for things you probably want to have.
“We receive more suggestions, as the phone understands more. In future, when you book a flight to Ibiza, in the next second you’ll also have suggested accommodation and activities sent to your mobile.”

Highly automated communication
As far as companies are concerned, one trend in the future is that transactions and communication will be more highly automated, predicts Ola Ahlvarsson. For example, the Coca-Cola machine can tell the car that it needs filling up, and the transaction is entered automatically into the schedule. 
“Or that I as an entrepreneur go into Google and write that I want to buy clicks for people with a certain profile, and then as sales increase money is sent to Google without their even knowing that I’m their customer. That kind of automated relationship is on the increase.”

Working more together
Ola Ahlvarsson is convinced that in future companies will be working more together with customers, entrepreneurs and companies in other industries. He believes that in order to keep up, large, traditional companies must realise that all innovation cannot come from within.
“They have to open their doors to entrepreneurs, remove the glass ceilings for intrapreneurs, and take the time to think ahead. There’s often a conflict between exciting opportunities for the future and day-to-day operations, but they have to go hand-in-hand. What we’re talking about is tomorrow’s ‘business as usual’.”
Ola Ahlvarsson confirms that technological developments and the changes currently under way are something that no previous generation has experienced.
“It’s a privilege to be able to live in these times. Bill Gates said that ‘more things will happen in the next ten years than happened in the last fifty years.’ And I’m convinced that that’s true.”