The Connectedness Paradox

“Inter-connectedness” in the world is increasing at an incredible pace. 2.5 quintillion bytes (2.5 X 10^18 B) of data is being produced daily as compared to 100 gigabytes in 1992. Facebook, launched less than 15 years ago, now has 1.4 billion people signed up on its platform. The average LinkedIn user now has 400 “connections” compared to 20-25 connections before the boom of the internet. Internet of Things is enabling our devices to communicate with one another offering endless possibilities both at home and at the workplace. Apple, Nest, Intel and Google are leading the game with IoT- leveraging it for greater efficiency and real time tracking as well as new business opportunities. Virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Home are making lives easier with multiple use cases- from home automation to online-shopping.

In spite of these, meaningful “connectedness” in the world is decreasing. An adult Facebook user has an average of 200 friends on Facebook, but would turn to only 4 of them for help. With increased visibility on different career paths, employee loyalty and relationships that lasted decades, now hardly last a few years. Excessive outbound marketing has agitated consumers, lowering brand image and trust. Overnight internet successes and virality have changed investor focus from long-term sustainable growth to short-term inorganic bursts. Government agencies and private companies are collecting and tracking consumers, raising serious data security and privacy concerns. Consumer and citizen trust in institutions, both private and public is at a record low.

Within this context, it is useful to examine what connectedness means and the implications to business in an increasingly inter-connected but paradoxically dis-connected world.