What is a post industrial platform?

Right, so as I prepare for my talk at CHI 2007 on the topic of the mobile as a post industrial platform for social and economic development at the bottom of the pyramid and emerging markets, it struck me that I’d been so focused on the mobile it self and the various initiatives in healthcare, banking or education, I hadn’t looked at the concept of a post industrial platform and what I’d originally meant by it.

I first heard the term ‘Post industrial platform’ in Larry Keeley‘s Design Planning class in Fall 2003 at the Institute of Design, Chicago. He shared with Doblin‘s research work, encapsulated in a PDF titled "Fact, Forces, Fog : Reckless guesses in a time of change". [Yes the URL is NextD’s and I don’t know if I’ve given due homage to that fact or coloured it appropriately, I did put the quotation marks in, so maybe this time I’ll escape without receiving an admonitory email asking me to correct the design elements of my post.]

What do we see when we look at the PDF centrefold?

Keeley shared that if we look at the way things were – the greyed out section on the left hand side titled Industries gave rise to material goods & services then look at how things are ‘now’ [this was done in about four years ago] Digital systems and connections amplify trends, using Doblin’s methods they were able to forecast the future direction of way things were going to be evolving.

The essence of the evolution if you look at the clusters closely is that business models are evolving away from the capital intensive industrial infrastructure requirements of an Industrial era towards post industrial platforms based on intangible concepts. On the far right hand side is the final section titled Hot fields foster powerful convergence. Doblin’s team identified 11 key areas:

Simplicity – Enlightenment – Talent leverage – Mastery – Travel – Entertainment – Personal Expression – Relationships – Financial health – Health & Environment – Political Freedom

Now when I look at the mobile’s penetration numbers, particularly in the bottom of the pyramid segment, the so called survival markets or even just the emerging markets of developing nations, I see it as the emergent platform for communication, connectivity and commerce.

Taking that thought one step further, if the 11 fields listed above are considered post industrial platforms on which to base business models on, can they not all be meta platforms for the development of applications and services on the cellular network or mobile handset for social and economic development for those living famously on $2 a day?

Don’t they need simplicity? Personal expression? eGovernance? Education [mastery] and jobs [talent leverage]?

Aren’t the majority of the web 2.0 offerings on one or the other of these core values already? After all, take blogging alone – it offers personal expression, can be a platform to demonstrate mastery or leverage talent, build relationships and express political freedom?

So if we look at the mobile as the post industrial platform for innovation, here are already 11 areas that are already showing up on the web in form or another as the precursors for the design and development of relevant business models.

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