Are we in a brave new world where technology is all that matters and classic human skills are not going to be needed any more?
Or is human nature going to prevail – as we obstinately cling to our biological ways of doing things?
Take the success of Amazon, for example. What makes it special? Why has Ebay become so popular?
The most obvious answer is that they timed it well – they had the technology and created the systems and processes – the infrastructure – needed to do business in the world of the Internet.
You could buy books on Amazon and sell your old stuff on Ebay.
But – just because you can do something doesn’t mean you will.
The two internet giants (and others) created new markets that were transparent and that you could trust.
Reviews, Ebay seller ratings, guarantees, escalation processes – all these helped reassure people that their money was safe if they used the platform to make a purchase.
Many of us can still remember a period when we didn’t fully trust things online. We might look it up online, but then go into a store to buy it.
Then we went into stores and checked online to see if we were getting a good price.
Now, we use stores like display cabinets – a place to look at things before we place an order from the cheapest place online.
The thing that Amazon and Ebay got right, eventually, was removing all risks for us as buyers of products.
And this is something Facebook is learning, perhaps painfully.
Facebook enables us to be producers and consumers of information – of stories and pictures and memories.
The problem is that they have also allowed their platform to be a seething quagmire of misinformation, propaganda and sleaze.
We don’t trust them or their platform, or feel it’s a safe place for us and our kids – and now they are having to do something about it.
They’re learning something that great marketers have always known – if you want someone to make a decision, take away every barrier, every risk that they could possibly face.
Let them try it out, pay later, offer a guarantee, let them have their money back at any time if they’re not happy.
Bend over backwards to make sure that they can make a decision and be confident that they can back out if they have even an iota of regret.
Some people are scared of doing this – what if they get taken advantage of?
But – back to human nature – more people will do the right thing. There will be some people who take advantage of you, but that will be a small number that is more than offset by people who decide to take a chance on you because of what you say you’ll do to remove any risk for them.
And, if you have a good product or service, you know they’ll be happy.
If we’re not confident that we have something good – then we need to fix that first.
But after that… you know that it will help the customer.
So… wipe out every last little bit of risk and then let them make the choice that is best for them.