Hey, I just found another use for Blogging! It’s a productive use of time at 6am during a windstorm power failure when the only thing you have is battery power on the laptop – no internet, no lights, no coffee – can’t decide which is worse?!?!

So I read and shared this article this week. My guess is many of my colleagues in the insurance space will read it, gently cross their arms, lean back in their chairs, and think, “Yep, this is what I’ve been saying all along…and exactly why I haven’t gotten into all that Facebook, Blogs and Social Media stuff. It’s all a fad.”

Yes, we ARE in a bubble. But here’s the thing (and I’ll ask the crowd of readers to Comment their take below):

The article makes a sound analogy with e-Commerce during the ’98-2000 era. There certainly was a bubble and a burst. Dot-com’s were getting huge amounts of money with no revenue model, etc. etc. The crash hit, many of those companies faded out, etc. Don’t need to rehash all that.

But what came out of all that? Solid e-commerce platforms by solid companies. Not sure what the latest numbers are, but billions of dollars are running through the internet as companies put their products on Web sites and buyers buy them. Again, no need to justify and explain all that anymore – common sense and acceptable.

Why did e-commerce outlive the Bubble? I’ll argue the following. What do you think?

Individually – I’ll list three. Please add yours.

IMHO, it really boils down to Fundamental Human Behaviors

e-Commerce efficiencies with time and money – Didn’t people see pretty quickly that they could browse for books and music on Amazon.com faster than they could in the store? Didn’t Google make it incredibly easy to find pretty much anything you want and compare prices, vendors, choices, user ratings, etc.? [And now we have all of that on our smart-phones? And now we have things like Groupon, Web specials, discounts for Fans, check-in savings on FourSquare?]

Sharing – Didn’t people love to tell stories about what happened to them after they bought the products? Give advice to others in similar circumstances? Make recommendations? Comment from the peanut gallery? Be the arm-chair quarterback? Share uses? Rant about injustices? Solve problems? [Back then it was mass emails and Fwd Fwd Fwd, right? Now it’s Facebook and YouTube, etc.]

Helping – Didn’t e-Commerce make it easier for people to help each other? A fundamental behavior? Why do drivers flash their lights at cars approaching a speed trap?

Corporately – I’ll list five. Please add yours.

  1. Industry leadership – Did the early adopters of e-Commerce realize long-term benefits as their systems matured through trial and error before the rest of the pack? When they figured out ways to do things better, faster, cheaper; to become known as an innovator in the industry; to develop ecosystems that snow-plowed the road for the industry, was there value in that?
  2. Competitive advantage – Did companies with better e-Commerce platforms do better in the 2000s than the competition? And how are they positioned today in 2011? What were the difference makers? How about those that did things in-house versus outsourcing to specialists? Pro’s and con’s on that to be sure, but if we limit the thoughts to the legit, real-deal outsourcing companies…
  3. Cost savings – Netnet, now that we’re 10 years down the road and e-Commerce platforms are in place, are cost structure differences yielding gains compared to the 80s and 90? Shopping? Distribution? Inventory management? etc?
  4. Mass marketing – Did e-Commerce realize the potential for companies to immediately get new products out to wide bases of constituents? How about selling overstocks? What else? And now, what about this concept called “Revenue on Demand”?
  5. Personalization – How about letting the consumer design their own product? Colors, features, accessories, timelines, etc.? Of course often for either a fee or for competitive advantage, right?

What are some other advantages of mature e-Commerce platforms?

Interesting side note: As I mentioned previously, I heard an insurance executive last summer say from a podium, “When will e-Commerce realize its potential?” I wanted to stand up and shout, “When you start doin’ it right, buddy.” Funny how that exec about 3 months later was canned. Oh, and 6 months later his Linkedin profile still lists him in the CEO role. Doh! I swear……. (I’ll save him the embarrassment of linking to it.)

So are we in a Social Media bubble? Absolutely. Will it burst? Yep. Then what? To answer the question in the original E-Consultancy blog…

“We’ll get back to reality and figuring out how to do Social Tech right like we shoulda’ been doing in the first place.”

My take? Social Tech is a specialization like anything else? It’s a discipline that must be mastered and kept up with? As to marketing? There’s a host of things that need to be done urgently today? If we don’t keep up, we WILL be left behind – just common sense. How costly will falling behind be? Again, my opinion, that seems to depend on customer switching costs and your competitors. Don’t underestimate the power of consumer ratings and recommendations, the viral nature of the social Web. Don’t be complacent. Change never stops.

What do you think? Good use of an hour to write this post? Any of this make sense? Please comment. Certainly link back to your site, your blog, or other writings. Please share with your network, ask them to comment, and see if we can get some of your thought-leader friends to pipe in.

Bubble or not, the critically important questions seem to be: Are there long-term utilities in Social Technologies? Does Social Tech align with core human behavior? And will early corporate adopters (caveat: who do it Social RIGHT) have long-term competitive advantage?