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The Future Is Just-in-Time-Person-and-Place

According to Wikipedia, the idea of just-in-time only appears in three contexts: just-in-time manufacturing, a production strategy in which things are built as they are demanded; computer programming, in which just-in-time compilation can compile code just before use to improve run-time performance; and just-in-time teaching, a strategy to improve learning outcomes that were recently added.

However, none of these tactics is a good fit for what I see as our just-in-time-and-place future, which is one in which cloud-based technologies will be able to provide us with whatever we want precisely when and where we require it. If we want to chart the trend of what our future consumers and workers will become, this is not simply a desired goal but a critical one.

Why buy anything when you just need access to it for a short length of time – vehicles (Uber/Lyft), houses (Airbnb), tools (Peerby, StreetBank)? This question is driving a steep decline in the trend of individual ownership of physical goods.

The new cult of minimalism advocates that all of us should get rid of everything that we own and backpack throughout the world with no more than thirty items in our possession at any given time. In fewer than a thousand years, as a result of the growth of the internet (particularly with the implementation of 5G networks), we will all be able to return to our nomadic lifestyle without worrying about becoming isolated from everyone we know.

That may be in the distant future, but let’s fast forward a little bit to the present: in the future, our customers and workers will become nomadic individuals (but in a positive way), traveling around the world, encountering new people and places, and being able to shop and work from anywhere, at any time, and in any location.

These new nomads may settle down in one location for a few days, weeks, months, or even years before moving on to new pastures. This is in contrast to the current trend, in which people choose a location to call home and remain there for approximately half the year while traveling the remaining half of the year.

What kind of products can you market to nomads? If the items you deliver are not consumables, they can be returned, reused, and resent to any other customer located anywhere else in the world at any time. The solution is simple: you need to construct a global network of services that is capable of delivering anything anywhere at any time.

Retailers and brands must be prepared to provide members of this hypermobile and hyper-connected community with goods and services that are available for rent or purchase, regardless of the time or location. To sell to this consumer, you will need deep integration with the customer’s social network and their intent, preferences, needs, and desires.

Because of their extreme mobility, the only connections they have are with the people in their immediate physical neighborhood as well as those in their online social network. In point of fact, rather than being a fleeting and ephemeral connection, their online network serves as an anchor that keeps them connected to their friends and family no matter where they are on the globe.

This new customer prioritizes mobility above all else since they are able to work from virtually any location and do virtually any task online. They can even complete physical chores in the surrounding region for monetary compensation, yet, they would rather connect with and join a worldwide task assignment network than obtain a job in the surrounding area.

How do you plan to prepare for the highly mobile and hyper-connected workforce and future customers? Will you have the infrastructure to support their demand for just-in-time and place delivery of products and services, which will be their expectation? In other words, will you be able to meet their expectation?

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