Vaporized: Solid Strategies For Success in a Dematerialized World, by Robert Tercek, ISBN 9781928055044
Five out of five stars
On the surface, there is little content in this book that even the casual observer does not know. Certain industries that were once powerful and profitable have vanished or been rendered into players in a niche market. Over ten years ago I reviewed a business book that contained high praise for the Blockbuster company and the efficient way it was organized and managed. Of course, it no longer exists, a point made in this book. Other examples are record stores and bookstores in physical form. Residents of towns and cities that once had powerful manufacturing bases have seen those jobs vanish, leaving empty, decaying and rusting hulks in their place.
Tercek goes beyond the basics and delves into the deeper megatrends that are rapidly altering the world economy in general and specifically the American economy. He operates on two basic premises that simply cannot be refuted. The first is:
“What can be digitized will be digitized.”
This simply means that every item of data will be converted into content stored on a computer and will be analyzed. The primary example of this is music, where very little is now stored on and played from a physical medium. However, the point must be made that analog forms of music, even vinyl, are making a bit of a comeback.
The second is:
“What can be performed by electronic devices will be performed by electronic devices.”
This means that if it is possible for a robot to safely perform a task, it will be doing that task. The consequences of this are enormous, all that is needed is to examine the potential for self-driving cars and trucks. There is little doubt that roads will be safer if humans are no longer behind the wheel and there will be fuel savings as well. Approximately two million people are employed as truck drivers in the United States and it is likely that nearly all of them will lose their jobs in a very short time. Perhaps only a matter of months.
While these two trends are almost certainly inevitable, the only hope for many businesses to survive is to follow the trend rather than ignore it. Or what is even more detrimental, fight it. Tercek strongly puts forward positions that explain what can be done to reduce the social cost of what is happening. He also presents arguments on both sides regarding what the new levels of “normal” unemployment will be.
As a book that explains the inexorable forces that are rapidly moving society, reading it can either make you optimistic or pessimistic about the future. Whatever your reaction, Tercek will get you thinking about what your response should be and your role and that of your organization in what is very quickly becoming the new reality.
This book is a must read if you want to be even close to prepared for the future.