Art of Message

Art of Message – July 3, 2023

Will the past predict the future?

Travelling back in time a bit..

  1. Pierre Omidyar was a web developer before starting eBay.
  2. Stewart Butterfield owned a web agency before starting Flickr (then later Slack).
  3. Jason Fried owned a web design agency before creating Basecamp.
  4. Rand Fishkin owned a web design company before starting Moz (then later SparkToro).
  5. Drew Houston was a web developer before starting Dropbox.
  6. Brian Chesky had a design studio before starting AirBNB.
  7. Mat Mullenweg was a freelance web developer before he founded WordPress.

In their era, the web was was the platform – creating business value with web design & development was the opportunity and the imperative.

Since then, we’ve had search, async JS, cloud, open source CMS, UX/design thinking, social, mobile, big data, blockchain, and predictive analytics AI – these were powerful tools for services firms like the above to deliver value to clients.

Yet none were as important as the web itself.

At the same time, we’ve also seen the profitability of web design and development slowly decline over the prior decades, as most businesses acclimate and submit to awful, low-cost websites.

Maybe the “services era” for the web agency is long gone?

I’m not sure yet whether generative AI is as important as the web, but it’s definitely more important than anything that’s come along since.

But maybe we’re still in the services era of generative AI? Or barely in it.

The question for everyone in services is: how can you use gen AI to improve business outcomes for your clients? Making it a line item in actual proposals is a good place to start.

If the past predicts the future, many great AI products will come from people who once provided it as a service.

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