The Future of the Internet is Offline

March 30th, 2007 | Categories: marketing, markets, networks, social media, trends

A true leap in the evolution of the Internet will occur when the line between online and offline is blurred. As we stand, there is a gaping void between the two worlds. A business usually classifies itself as an Internet company or an offline business. Having said that, I do not know how this transformation will take place, but it will be a magical moment and a step forward in the history of technology.

When online actions begins to have offline consequences, we will be moving in the right direction.

Some organizations with an online presence, such as charities and non-profits, benefit not only from the added exposure and awareness, but also via a more streamlined fundraising effort. These groups are a good example as they essentially do not ‘exist’ offline (offices aside). Therefore, online and offline collaboration are very important to them. This may be one of the few examples where the void is starting to be filled.

Shopping is a totally different story. Research has shown time and time again that consumers research products online, then purchase offline. Tracking this discrepancy is nearly impossible. How is a company to know that an offline purchaser performed research and due diligence online before making the ultimate purchasing decision? Without some sort of questioning or survey, it is impossible. I expect big changes to occur in this industry. Offline conversion tracking will be the Holy Grail.

Once the integration and interaction between these two seemingly separate worlds can occur, expect behavioural changes to be next. Just like any action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Opposition to the new changes may result. Furthermore, adaption and education around new systems will be necessary. But in the end, offline may very well be the last piece of the online puzzle.


  1. Trenton Says:

    I remember reading about this. I believe the play-on-words the futurist attributed to the concept was “everyware”. The idea is that everything is connected to the internet, whether it’s your car, toaster oven or clothing. What is inherent within this concept is the loss of privacy, however the argument was that the convenience would far outweigh the feelings of intrusion for most people.

  2. Erik Says:

    You should have a look at Service BC, an organization within the British Columbia Provincial Government that is working to create seamless integrated service delivery channels. High level concept is that citizens of BC are able to access government services in the most efficient manner utilizing any or all of the online/phone/in person service delivey methods.

  3. Owen Says:

    One of the big changes that will have to happen is (cost effective) location independence of the internet. Most people access the internet only at home on their computer. If I could do research while going between stores I could mix the strengths of both online and offline shopping. Anywhere access is your key.

  4. Theo Tonca Says:

    My startup is presently working on integrating online/offline shopping, but let me tell you it’s no walk in the park due to the lack of accurate local data currently available on the internet.

    I think that once the majority of small businesses decide to come online in one form or another and thus make local data for prevalent and accessible, then we will see some really interesting apps and services emerge.

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