2012, accessibliity, capitalism, censorship, cloud computing, COSBOA, Council of Small Business, digital media, economy, internet, journalists, media, Peter Strong, platform, power, SaaS, small business, SMB, SMBs, SME, SMEs, social commerce, social commerce australia, social media, software as a service, SOPA, startups, tech startups, technology, tim berners-lee, web platform, world wide web, www, Xero
The Internet as a level playing field between small business and big
Tim Berners-Lee, all those years ago, created the Internet to lead the world wide web to its full potential – to enable anyone and everyone to access the world at their fingertips. Unfortunately though, for some time, it was cost prohibitive for small organisations to succeed online – building and maintaining websites is costly, and search marketing was created as an auction system – a system fundamentally skewed towards rewarding those with the deepest pockets.
Peter Strong, Executive Director of the Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) in a recent communication reminded his stakeholders of the council’s need to help ensure that ‘the Internet is a fair and transparent place of trade’ for small business. For the Internet to become a place where big business can dominate just as much as they do in bricks & mortar commerce would be a travesty not just for small business but for the economy at large – he argues in fact (which I agree with) that small business people are the key to managing economic crisis.
The SOPA bill currently proposed in the United States is a perfect example of where the internet could be used to dominate and drown out competition to the big players, where it seeks to allow certain industry sectors to shut down and restrict the internet activity of anyone whom is suspected or accused of copyright violation. (Visit this page for a better explanation: http://bit.ly/wQ1Qu1) Not that I’m against copyright violation mind you, but more so that I’m concerned about giving more online power to the biggest players. It’s a direct contradiction of the intent of the Internet. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and if bills like SOPA are allowed to pass, it’s merely a stepping stone to letting big global businesses dominate the online space.
As every 2011 retrospective blog and just about every 2012 speculative blog will tell you, we’re getting closer to being able to empower small business to compete on the same level as big business. SaaS based platforms give business the ability to access useful technology that is as good as or better than traditional hosted solutions (I recently started using Xero accounting software and absolutely love it, for example), and there is much more to come. While some of the earlier SaaS options were still prohibitively priced, the volume of competition and the surge in demand has forced the price-points down for many. This further opens the accessibility of such tools to the masses.
For tech startups, journalists, and media companies alike – the single biggest opportunity any of us could seek to address right now is the leveling of the playing field for small and medium business. I’d love to hear and see from you any resources, new technologies, links, ideas etc as they come to the fore that supports this vision. Right now, I’m focused on using social commerce in Australia to try and achieve this. There’s so many different ways we could be tackling the issue though. You can find me on Twitter as well as @priceyjohndoe if you want to connect!