The future of business is Lego

What should business look like in the hyperconnected future? Just like a children's toy, according to futurist Mark Pesce.
Written by Stilgherrian , Contributor

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"Businesses have to actively reinvent themselves as APIs," said Mark Pesce — and he means it literally. In a hyperconnected world, businesses must present themselves as services accessible through an application programming interface.

"I mean, every business, everywhere. It doesn't matter whether it's Gerry Harvey, it doesn't matter whether it's Amazon, it doesn't matter whether it's the baker down the street," he said.

Too abstract?

"There's nothing abstract about an API, particularly if I hit an API and I get bread. There's very little abstract about that. It is, perhaps, a bit more electronic, but there's nothing fundamentally different than me walking up to the counter in the baker's shop and saying 'I'll have a loaf of the sourdough and here's five bucks'," Pesce said.

When every business is an API, new businesses can be formed almost instantly by linking together these services.

"The world of business in the 21st century looks a lot more like Lego than it does like Monopoly."

In this week's Patch Monday podcast, Mark Pesce discusses these and other themes from his blog-cum-book The Next Billion Seconds and the follow-up Hyperbusiness, in an interview recorded amongst the start-ups at Sydney co-working space Fishburners.

"Most of these companies are trying to embody the idea of a service offering that's API-accessible, that can be mashed up with other services, or is taking other services and mashing them up to create something interesting," Pesce said.

But the internet-standard business model of paying for services with our privacy, the model that fuels everything from Google to Facebook, may not last.

"In the future that we're heading into, the rich will be able to pay for privacy, the poor ... will be paid to be data-mined ... If you're really, really rich, you won't be able to pay enough money to keep all the eyes off of you, because money attracts attention."

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

Running time: 1 hour, 9 minutes, 23 seconds.

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