Trend #3 is about the waves that are breaking the barriers between us – and why the pace of walls falling will accelerate exponentially in 2017.
Over the last decade, social networks like Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and Linkedin, together with trading platforms like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba, have connected people and places, markets and movements globally.
Politicians in England can plan to separate from the EU, and the President-Elect of the United States can plan a wall on the Mexican border, but none of these plans impact the direct connection we already have via the Internet and our mobile phones.
That’s how Alibaba’s “Single’s Day” promotion earlier this month on 11/11 made $13.4 billion in sales across 150 countries from their one site in China (compared to the $3 billion in sales from all US stores that will be made on Black Friday)
Why is this trend towards greater connection going to grow exponentially in 2017?
Because after 5,000 years of human history, the final barrier – our language barrier – is about to fall.
Imagine starting a store in a village of 100 people, and only being able to speak to and sell to just 11 of them. That’s what you’ve been doing if you only operate your business in English.
According to Ethnologue, out of 7.4 billion people in the world, only 335 million people speak English as a first language, and only 505 million more speak it as a second language. That’s just 11%.
How did Alibaba sell in so many countries? Because they already operate in all the main languages. Yesterday, Edinburgh-based website Skyskanner was bought by China’s Ctrip for $1.7billion. What made it so valuable? Early on, the company decided to be truly international by publishing flight details in 30 different languages.
Now, you too can operate your business in multiple languages.
This year was the tipping-point.
In 2016, Skype Translator has rolled out instant translation in 51 languages on instant messaging, and instant translation in speech in English, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Russian.
They also made the Microsoft Translator API available for anyone to create their own instant translation apps.
Google Translate now instantly translates into 100 different languages – including instant translation of your web site. Their Google Translate App also gives instant visual translation of everything from street signs to menus and magazines. This year, they too have made their Translation API available for any developer to use. That’s why we are now seeing projects like “The Pilot” which raised $3.5 million on Indiegogo in June, giving you an earpiece that instantly translates speech into your language.
Social media platforms, from Youtube to Facebook to Instagram, turned on instant translation in 2016.
In 2017, instant translation will become the norm, allowing each of us to easily reach out to and connect with the other 89 people in that village of 100.
From 11% speaking English, to everyone speaking everything – all in the next year.
Less walls, more doors: Every language you add to your business is a doorway to an entirely new universe. Start with a multi-language, multi-currency business, and from day one you can learn from everywhere and work from anywhere. There’s never been a better time to start.
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” ~ Milton Berle
If you could communicate with anyone in any country without any language barriers, where would you go? What would you do?
If we all could truly understand each other better, what kind of future could we build together?
“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.” ~ Andrew Murphy