The past 35 years of technical innovation can be roughly summed up in three eras: PCs, internet and mobile.
Each of these three phases has had a big-bang moment that sparked the launch of an era.
Famously, Apple, Microsoft and IBM launched the PC era in the late 1970s. The moment that Bill Gates convinced IBM to include Microsoft DOS on every computer caused the spark that changed an entire industry. The following decade marked an incredible rise of productivity, achieving Gates' vision of a computer in every home and on every desk.
The Internet era brought digital marketing designed to drive online e-commerce sales. Online commerce has grown at astounding rates. Last year, in the U.S. alone, online commerce exceeded $400B.
In 2007, Apple sparked the mobile era with the launch of iPhone. Android and others quickly followed, and analysts predict 8 billion smart phones and 50 billion connected things by 2020.
With billions of connected people wandering the world, offline commerce will continue to dwarf online commerce. Last year, local offline commerce in the U.S. totaled $6 Trillion, 15 times bigger than online commerce.
With unprecedented information about a user's location, marketers have an incredible opportunity to deliver a local message designed to drive offline sales.
And this will bring on a fourth era: Local.
The question is, what will cause the big bang in the local era?
Every other big bang has been triggered from a primordial soup of infrastructure, technology capabilities and most importantly collaboration.
Microsoft didn't invent the PC era alone. It did so with partnerships with hardware manufactures like IBM and Dell, a deep alliance with chipmaker Intel, and all kinds of software partners.
Netscape didn't invent the Internet era alone. It did so because Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, AOL and others provided great services.
Apple didn't invent the smartphone era alone. It launched in partnership with AT&T, Google Services, etc. You may remember Eric Schmidt was on Apple's board and part of the original iPhone launch. So was Cingular's (now AT&T) CEO.
We will see the same pattern in local era big bang. Companies will come together to form partnerships to deliver amazing local user experiences.
On-demand car service upstart Uber is a great example of this. It has mashed up Google Maps, Foursquare, its own driver network, and payment tech to deliver a unique experience. Others will follow in this pattern.
There will be hundreds of services for marketers to deliver local messages in an increasingly mobile world with pinpoint geo-awareness.
The key for marketers in taking advantage of this is having their location geodata and content ready to deploy across services.
With geodata and content in the cloud, marketers are not betting on the long-term success of any particular service. They're betting that they want to quickly and easily deliver a local message across any service. This gives flexibility to quickly react as an avalanche of new services and experiences launch – local messages can be rapidly deployed, consistently and with control, anywhere.
In fact, maybe the local big bang moment has already occurred. In my next post, I will detail five specific "today" ideas for marketers to localize their message across digital channels.