Camel, container and call center

Each represents a distribution venue in various era.

Now, the man behind “As Seen On TV” wants to do away with call center altogether.

Essentially, he just keeps the container, while relying on the “cloud” and the credit card

to elicit impulse buying.

Welcome to the future, where pundits who blamed off-shored call centers for taking jobs away from Americans all of a sudden gone quiet (can’t blame the blinking lights in co-lo centers which might be residing in one of the trailers’ parks in North Dakota or Wyoming).

I had my experience of “impulse buying” when I called the 800 number to place orders for Time-Life Music of the 70’s (Singers and Songwriters set – ‘you have to call it now, to get the bonus CD‘ etc..). I ended up giving out my credit card numbers to an order taker

who I knew full well was working the night shift, and did not grow up listening to those music.

In a few short years, I won’t even have the privy of talking to a live person at all.

They will just keep the container to ship tangible goods, and have me download the rest (SaaS).

Clean tech, clean transaction. Direct response. No intermediary.

Ford ushered in the model T’s, all in black. This displaced the horse carriage. Now Hyundai overtakes Ford (just behind GM, VW, Toyota and Nissan).

Camel was the thing of the past (Silk Road).

I saw the picture of that bridge just opened in China.

That should facilitate a lot of containers, rushing to the port (for export).

What we used to think of as “long-term solution”, now happens to be middle-term at best, and short-term at worst. Technology with its high velocity compresses our concept of time. But, if anything still holds true, it’s our human nature (social animal) and 24-hr day.

We still are going to buy from people, trust friend’s recommendations and optimize time/value trade-off.

Hence, in taking disintermediation to the extreme, companies end up trading customer satisfaction for operational efficiency. Pushing it, they end up killing the golden goose (conversely, happy customers turn evangelists, the end result of exceptional customer service). It’s what getting the customers to come back and bring their friends that count more than a single impulse buy (exercise equipment, as seen on TV).

Customer Life-time Value.

Facebook’s CEO knows this network effect well when he mentioned that in 5 years, social media will morph into something we won’t recognize . In today’s speed, 5 years is a life time ago, when we were “irrationally exuberant” with housing prices and nobody even saw the coming of the Ipads.

On this, I am willing to revise my long-term planning. Let’s say, 2015 is far out enough into the future, when not even Cambodian college students want to work in call centers. They will be too busy counting the US dollars sub-contracting for Chinese supply chain companies whose containers are full of stuff “as seen on TV”.


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