People aged over 40 are often amazed by what is happening online. Sometimes they find it difficult to consider things the way those born in the 1970s do. For instance, people under 30 tend to distrust corporates and they also seek the best solutions for what they want to achieve, regardless of brand. In spite of what you might think from media coverage, surveys tell us that the younger generations are not really that brand aware.

That’s a problem for traditional business which is geared around promoting brands. Indeed, it’s still the way that much business is generated online. But the world is changing fast. For example, many business people – the younger ones – are avoiding banks altogether as a source of funding. Instead they are going to cooperative ventures such as Zopa, where you borrow money from other people, rather than banks.

Similarly, the polling organisations in the US Presidential Elections showed widely varying results because of the changed behaviour of younger people. Some pollsters only call landlines – but many younger people do not own landlines, using cellphones for all their communications. And that meant many members of one generation were excluded from polling, making some of the polls inaccurate.

Younger people really do think differently. And think about this. What if you construct your entire personal identity online using a range of tools such as social networking, Twitter, and various electronic “safes”. You might also have all your finances in PayPal. Guess what – you then do not need a bank account.

The problem with banks is that they are run by people over 40 (indeed many are run by people over 60). They don’t think in the same way as the under 30s – their potential future customers. These youngsters distrust corporates, like the banks, they have no need for a bank account and if they want to borrow money they can get it from their “friends” online in cooperative ventures. The banks are blind to the future whereby the way they have done business for the past 300 years is simply not going to wash with the younger generation. Bank accounts as we know them will become obsolete for millions of people within a matter of a few years (for many they already are obsolete).

Yet, banks, like so many traditional firms, continue to plod on as though nothing much has changed. We are in the midst of a fundamental shift in business – where the old ways of doing things are disappearing rapidly, where brand means nothing and where cooperation is the order of the day. How ready is your business for this new way of doing things? If you don’t think about it now, you will be in trouble soon.

And if you don’t think that’s true, just consider the record industry. It was told several years back that online music would threaten its core income. The old “suits” who run the industry thought this was just teenage twaddle. Now who is red faced? Dramatic change IS coming to your industry – faster than you can imagine. Better to make plans now, rather than be like the record industry constantly trying – and largely failing – to catch up.

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