This past week, I came across an article from the Wall Street Journal titled “Putting on the Brakes: Mankind Nears the End of the Age of Speed.” The story links the final voyage of the Space Shuttles flight this June with the seeming end of a two century long conquest for speed. Since the 18th century, humans have been able to increase the speed of travel 10x every hundred or so years. From the 6mph of a horse to the 60mph of a train and finally to the 600mph of jet, we have maintained an incredible pace of speed advancement for quite some time. Yet, as the author suggests, it would seem that our desire for speed has waned and we are nearing the “End of the Age of Speed.”
I was struck by this article because I happen to think quite the opposite. Our appetite for speed is stronger than ever. Today, we just happen to care less about travel and more about information and results. Individuals are asking for faster access to their favorite sports teams, celebrities and insider info into the newest gadget or fashion statement. Businesses are compressing the time it takes for an idea to hit the market and are demanding real-time insights into the needs and desires of their customers. In many ways, humans are more obsessed with speed than we’ve ever been before.
Mobile is the poster boy of this obsession. We are continually demanding and looking for new ways immediate access to everything in our life. From our social networks to the latest news story, we want to stay informed, and we want to know now; not tomorrow, not in an hour, right now. We curse when our email loads slowly and when we it takes a couple minutes to download a clip from YouTube. Success is given to those let us operate at light speed.
We’ve certainly noticed this push at Communispace. Our clients crave the latest insights into every trend, shift and consumer need that impacts their business. With the 24/7 access to consumers we provide our clients, businesses can ask questions and get results in record time.
This new, unprecedented level of business speed can have tremendous results. When KRAFT wanted to connect with key consumers to understand their desires and headset around weight loss for a potential new opportunity with a competitive go-to-market window, they were able to compress a typical product development cycle and move more quickly than ever before to develop and market a new product line. The result? Their new product line achieved $100 million in sales in its first six months in the market.
Mankind’s appetite for speed is certainly intact; we just have a more refined palate.