business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

You don’t have to be a great student of history to remember that the first phone call made by Alexander Graham Bell was essentially a shout out for help to his assistant. Thomas Watson. Or that Samuel Morse’s first telegram simply asked, “What hath God wrought?”

But here’s one you might not know: the first SMS text ever sent went between two computer engineers and read, “Merry Christmas.” (And no, the response wasn’t ROFLMAO, followed by some emojis.)

That historic text was sent 25 years ago this very week - specifically on Dec. 3, 1992.

(It is a big week for anniversaries. yesterday, Kevin wrote about the fact that it is 75 years ago this week that Casablanca was released.)

There are times we work hard here at MNB to find business lessons in virtually anything and we have lots of fun doing it. But sometimes it requires little to no effort.

Recently I had the honor to speak at the 25th anniversary conference of a trade association in the country of Colombia. In preparing for my speech, I decided to research how technology had changed the world in those 25 years and stumbled onto that two-word holiday greeting and the text revolution that followed.

Somehow it hit me that 1992 doesn’t feel all that long ago to me. “Seinfeld” was on television and the New York Mets were still lousy. (The Mets were only marginally better in 1992 … they had a 72-90 record, compared with their 70-92 record in 2017.)

Beyond that though, technology has made it a completely different world. Consider the following:

Start with texting in SMS or short messaging services. At first, the idea didn’t really take off. Three years after that first holiday greeting the average cell phone user was sending less than one text every two months. Today there are 16 million texts sent every minute; 23 billion every day; and more than 8 trillion a year. In comparison, that’s twice the number of voice phone calls made.

Consider websites. In 1992 there were only 10. It would be two more years until the appearance of Yahoo, three years until Amazon and seven until Google. Today there are more than one billion websites although the number has both risen and declined in recent years.

In so many ways the world has completely changed in 25 short years and, if anything, the change seems to be coming ever faster. And that’s why you need to re-read and internally discuss Kevin’s Monday articles on Black Friday and how shopping malls are making adjustments.

The lesson in all of this is so straightforward: the world is and has changed for all of us at warp speed. And that means we cannot take anything for granted.

All the traditional ways of shopping, advertising, marketing, recruiting, communicating and, well, you name it are evolving. Twenty-five years ago, texting didn’t exist and this morning, in the few minutes it took you to read this article, millions of those messages have been sent worldwide.

It’s a new world seemingly every day. Merry Christmas indeed.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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