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Will FOFB Replace FOMO in 2018?

Over the past several years, fear of missing out, or FOMO, has become a thing. While people have always wanted to enjoy themselves and socialize with friends, technology now makes our participation in everything we do a public event. As we're tethered to our smartphones, and social media-enabled, we now share our lives in real time. Not only do we want to maximize our great experiences, but also make sure everyone knows about them. With the pervasive presence of 24/7 social updates, check-ins, and live tweets, technology has altered our social landscape by removing the traditional time and space continuum. Intentionally or not, we are constantly reinforcing FOMO in each other: If you're not at THIS party, event, or concert, you're so missing out.

The Emergence of FOFB

Now that the New Year's ball has dropped, resolutions have been made and we're all back at work from the holidays, a new thing will emerge: I call it FOFB. This is the "fear of falling behind." And like FOMO, this fear is technology-enabled. Digital transformation is fueling disruption and changing the way business is done, forever. Just as the supercomputer in the palm of our hands called a smartphone powered a revolution in social interaction, it's also fundamentally changing how we conduct business.

Digital transformation is enabling new businesses to scale at a record pace, and that's allowing transformation to turn into disruption, and disruption to turn into landscape-altering, competition-crushing success. Think about this one stat: 52% of Fortune 500 companies from the year 2000 are no longer listed today.

Digital transformation isn't a trend; it's the next industrial revolution. At the start of 2017, IDC predicted that $1.2 trillion would be spent on digital transformation in 2017 alone, and that number would scale to $2 trillion by 2020. That's trillion with a T. Need some context? Only 15 countries in the world had a GDP of over $1 trillion in 2017.

When you look deeper at the digital native companies -- those that disrupt industries the fastest -- they all have one thing in common: They're finding new, digital ways to do the same old things, better. Car hailing is crushing the taxi. Online retail is crushing brick and mortar. Short-term home rental is crushing the hotel. We all need to get from A to B, we all need to buy goods, and we all travel for business and pleasure. And now, we all have new ways to do old things better.

Disruption's Best Friend: the Frictionless Experience

Why are these industries being disrupted so quickly? It comes down to one word: frictionless. New business are crushing old ones by removing friction. They're using technology to enable their customers to conduct business and communicate with them easily -- without friction. They're embracing APIs, and embedding them into their digital ecosystems to make communication seamless, no matter the channel.

When your car-hailing driver knows your location via the GPS signal your phone communicates, and you see his tiny car icon turning the corner via the signal the service communicates, and the payment is communicated from your credit card embedded in the app, the friction-filled notion of trying to hail a ride in a taxi becomes utterly obsolete.

Fighting off FOFB

So, companies are spending $1.2 trillion on digital transformation, because they're afraid of falling behind -- and rightly so. But they underappreciate the role of removing friction via contextual and programmable communications. As they make their digital transformation bets, companies should remember that no business transaction happens without two parties successfully connecting via communication. When companies place their bets on infrastructure instead of communication tools, they're buying new rockets and forgetting the rocket fuel.

Now that we're all hard at work and hearing stories of how the holiday season crowned new business success at the expense of old business failure, I promise that FOFB will set in. Nobody wants to fall further behind in an industrial revolution. If you want to change the trajectory of your company, take a lesson from the digital disruptors and make communications a transformational priority. Keep embracing digital transformation, but if you're going to build a rocket, don't forget the fuel. When you have both, there'll be no more falling behind to fear.