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Nearly 20 years ago, there was a major economic shift — from a services economy to an experience economy. Since then, the accelerating pace of technology, fueled by hyperspecialization, digitization, and the ability to programmatically control these new environments, has been quietly ushering in a new economy set to challenge every industry — the coherence economy.
Creating Magic Through the Coherence of Technology
Think of the evolution of travel. In the agrarian economy, you would start walking; perhaps you could upgrade to a horse. In the industrial economy, mass production of cars and boats made those options practical for a broad range of people. The services economy brought airlines and taxis. Some airlines and a few ground transport providers have attempted to elevate their offerings into full-on experiences, with mixed success. But in the coherence economy, your travel needs will be automatically aligned across transportation, lodging, dining, and entertainment services, so you can be anywhere at any time and live your life or conduct your business seamlessly.
Imagine an automatic concierge, a really smart virtual assistant, that constantly aligns your needs with the numerous offerings available. Although each element in your travel itinerary will still be offered separately, the coherence of technology will enable the elements to work in concert so that your global lifestyle is not just possible but practically effortless.
Examples of coherence are already all around us: Think of rowing teams that act as one to propel a racing shell forward. Coherence is also abundant in nature, such as termite colonies that construct fabulous structures through emergent, cooperative behaviors. Technology is now enabling a whole new plane of coherence in our lives and in the economy.
Once we get used to this coherence, there’s no turning back. Just as fewer and fewer of us drive to new locations without the safety net of GPS, or deposit checks at the bank, or buy items at a physical store instead of having them delivered more cheaply on demand, so will fewer and fewer of us put up with experiences that must be manually orchestrated. We want magic.
The Characteristics of Coherence
The main differences between the experience and the coherence economy are scope, dynamics, and layers. Consider health care: Your ultimate aim is to become and stay as healthy as possible.