Internet Age Morphing into 'The Age of Acceleration' - We Got No Time!

By Peter Bernstein August 16, 2012

In scanning the Internet recently I was struck by two seemingly unrelated items. The first was a very nice infographic done by John Kestsier on under the title, “The Internet 2002 – 2012: What a difference a decade makes.”   Wow is he right. As the saying goes, “how time flies when you are having fun.” The infographic reminds us not just how far we have come in a decade but also how fast. It also highlights that the pace of change is speeding up.

The second is a quote from former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather, who stated in regards to the digital news cycle: “It’s very common today for a reporter to get a phone call or a text from the home office saying, “our competition has X and you need to beat it in the next thirty seconds, preferably less.”

Time, efficiently used as well as the lack thereof, is the tie that binds.   

The Age of Acceleration is at hand

In recent speeches I have started with a description of why I believe we are watching the morphing of the Internet Age, where real-time has been determined to be the only time, to what I am calling “The Age of Acceleration.” In this new age, real-time may be too slow, and too slow from the standpoint of business could mean too late. Let me explain.

Whether it is in our multiple personal and/or business personae, a major immutable fact is:  It is about SPEED! There is no turning back.

In our personal lives, we want what we want, in the way we want it, and we want it right now according to our volition and executed against our personal policies and rules. Most of us cannot detach from our electronic umbilical cords for fear of not knowing what is going on with friends and family, where we are and where we are heading, what’s hot and what’s not. Indeed, we feel inferior when asked, “Did you know about (fill in the blank)?” It seems inadequate to admit, “I must have missed that!”  

Putting aside the private life aspects of the new age, whose blurring and balance with professional needs is the subject for another day, it is useful to briefly contemplate what the need for speed has done to completely reshape the business world.

A level set is required.  Hence, a few generic formulas are in order relating to the definition of the realities of “The Age of Acceleration.” These are:

  • Time = Money
  • Time = Finite Resource
  • People + Products & Services + Processes = Performance
  • Disruption/Innovation = Opportunity
  • Performance Optimization = Competitive Advantage  

Since we cannot create more time, only use what we have better, speed is the thing. It oils the above enabling greater productivity and lasting and appreciable value. Put simply in the new age the paramount formula is in essence, SPEED = SUCCESS.  

I chose the term acceleration because it is a nice context for explaining a lot of industry jargon. For example, try the following sentence on for size. We need business intelligence and analytics derived from “big data” implementations to provide greater dexterity via business process automation that enables enterprises to be more proactive, adaptable and responsive about improving operational excellence and the quality of experience (QoE) by leveraging tools like unified communications (UC) and network services that provide quality of service (QoE) for priority interactions.  A further run-on sentence could let me toss in thing like presence, location, collaboration, etc.   

Just for grins here is a final one. Mobility in the enterprise, as manifested by the BYOD phenomena and the rising data storm it is helping generate, along with virtualization and the cloud mean companies can have all IP networks based on carrier Ethernet and MPLS that leverage the power of data centers.

All I am trying to convey here is that in a business context time is not just of the essence because of what speeding things up enables us to do with it. It is also something which viewed from inside the tornado can be over-looked or under-appreciated.   At the end of the day if your organization is not speeding up to keep pace with “E”verything else that is accelerating, including speeding up your culture to accept a so-called “new normal” where rapid change is the only constant, you will be left behind.

Several decades ago there was a saying that related a type of substance abuse that said, “speed kills.” It can if you let it. However, in The Age of Acceleration, properly understood and exploited, speed really can and should equal success. 

I close with a bit of personal nostalgia. For those of you not familiar with the late 1960s there was a group out of Canada, Guess Who, whose music you may enjoy but listen to the lyrics in the video embedded. 


Here is part of the refrain that is worth seeing in print:

(No time left for you) On my way to better things
(No time left for you) I found myself some wings
(No time left for you) Distant roads are callin' me
(No time left for you) Da-un-da-un-da-un-da-un-da

No time for a summer friend
No time for the love you send
Seasons change and so did I
You need not wonder why
You need not wonder why
There's no time left for you
No time left for you

There is only one way to “make time” and that to let speed be your ally not your enemy.  

Speed can allow us personally to enjoy the virtual feeling of having more time if we control it rather than let it distract and ultimately control us. Speed in the business world also can and should translate into all of those great things executives want and expect to flow from using time better. 

It is time to enjoy the ride as The Age of Acceleration picks up speed.  

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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