None of us can deny that the tragic events in New York recently will change lots of things. One of these is quite possibly the way we shop. According to analysts at Peterborough, New Hampshire-based ActivMedia Research, one of the results is likely to be a dramatic increase in the use of the internet instead of shopping and business trips.
First to change
The analysts expect the first effects to involve several now commonplace activities: many consumers will avoid making shopping trips to big cities and will instead shop in smaller, local towns and via the internet. Business to business visits will reduce as sales forces use new voice and video technologies to maintain live discussion and negotiation with their clients. And the resistance to biometric identification and smart cards will lessen, as people realise that there must be a balance between freedom and privacy, and legitimate identification and security.
According to ActivMedia Research VP, Harry Wolhandler, "Life online and off-line will never again be the same. Propelled by forces outside personal control, people will adopt measures for protection that will range from lifestyle changes to acceptance of a measure of intrusion on personal freedom and liberty that had been vigorously rejected by the free-spirited early web pioneers. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can only be obtained in a safe social environment, and these trade-offs will now become acceptable to mainstream citizens in developed world countries."
Smallest hardest hit
This is all likely to favour larger companies. Recent research by ActivMedia found that larger companies tended to have stronger integration of online and off-line sales channels. They are also more likely to survive the blow to the economy. And, they are usually in a better position to make use of the alternatives: the sophisticated new technologies. They are more likely to offer the facility to conduct business using mobile phones or PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), and are more likely to adopt voice-over-IP (speech over the internet) for live online interaction.
But who can tell? The effect that the internet has had was not foreseen ten years ago. The effect that the recent events will have are likely to be just as surprising. One thing is sure: the future will be not be the same as the one we had imagined a few weeks ago.