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How Will Social Media Change Our Industry in 10 Years?

What was life like for you 10 years ago? Can you recall those early experiences with the Internet? 1 can.

Some 12 years ago, after working in southern California and studying for an MBA, I decided to start a financial company in the heart of where it was all happening: Silicon Valley. We were assembling websites, producing digital content, and creating new ways to help consumers find the light financial advisors. In short, we were empowering investors and leveling the playing field.

Looking back, in some ways the evolution hasn't been that radical: We still have content, only it's more visual and less wordy; we can still connect with people, but on a more individualized level and with deeper analytics.

Yet in other ways, the jump from the Web 1.0 to Web 3.0 – in a span of about 15 years – has been significant indeed.

As a reminder:

■ Business models that refused to adapt went bust. Many of those that survived are still playing catchup. Think of your local newspaper competing with the Huffngton Post. Target still hasn't gotten online purchasing down the way Amazon has, and now its business has been shaken following a major breach in the security of customer credit card data.

■ Borrowers can now bypass lenders, banks, and middlemen and go straight to other consumers for a $10,000 loan to start successful businesses.

■ Your smartphone has more capabilities than devices carried by the men who first went on the moon.

It's useful to ponder such rapid transformation, because even industry leaders can find themselves in last place. Eastman Kodak was a giant in the retail photography industry in the twentieth century until digital cameras toppled the company, which emerged from a bankruptcy filing in 2013 as a far smaller enterprise. Motorola invented the mobile phone, but developments in smartphone technology left it in the dust; it said in 2014 that it would sell its cellphone business. Clearly, managing change is an increasingly important skillset for the years ahead.

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