Recessions often accelerate social shifts that are already percolating under the surface. One of the key trends I've been watching is the growing number of Digital Nomads.
|Photo: JC Bourcart|
|Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.|
Digital Nomads are already extremely influential. Many of them blog and hang out on sites such as Web Worker Daily. In addition, they shun traditional communication tools such as e-mail.
Luis Suarez is one such corporate nomad whom I met recently at a conference in Brussels. Suarez has a successful career in knowledge management with IBM. He lives in the Canary Islands and has virtually eliminated all business e-mail in favor collaborating via social networks. Suarez has chronicled this extensively on his blog.
Others are declaring free agency. Charlene Li, an influential Forrester analyst who tracks digital trends, blogged last week that she is leaving the research firm to go independent. Some believe that the growing ranks of free-agent analysts may spell trouble for traditional research firms.
Many tools workers need are free or low-cost. This extends into verticals as well. Google Ad Planner, launched in June, could theoretically allow anyone to become a nomadic media planner.
Digital Nomads are growing in numbers, and they will create ripples, accelerating the use of Web 2.0 technologies in the workplace. Over time, they may have some effect on marketing channels, potentially slowing the efficacy of e-mail marketing and accelerating the reliance on social-media engagement in marketing.
But it goes deeper than that. If you don't allow your employees to become nomadic, they may become so anyway and compete against you in the process.