Rush Hour

Partners In Time

Interestingly, business owners have a potentially powerful ally in providing consumers with the instant gratification they crave: consumers themselves. "Adding systems where your customers can help themselves but can go away feeling content about it is key," says McKenna. For example, think of a furniture store that has every product consumers want in stock--provided the consumers are willing to assemble them themselves. Then, too, there is the delivery company that allows its customers to track the progress of their own packages. And, yes, there are the no-longer-reserved-only-for-tech-companies Web sites that provide opportunities for customization and customer service heretofore only dreamed of.

"All of these things are possible because technology is enabling consumers to have access to channels and information to serve themselves," McKenna explains. (Ironically, the very same consumers who won't walk 10 feet to turn the TV dial.)

At any rate, the future shock long predicted by pundits and philosophers alike has finally come to pass--and with it, a shocking new level of customer expectations has become the standard. Although much of the next few years remains difficult to predict, the very speed at which we'll experience these years seems all but guaranteed.

"The speed with which you can communicate is going to increase at a very rapid rate--just in the next decade," McKenna says confidently. "And we already think it's fast."

Contact Sources

The McKenna Group, (650) 354-4403,

National Association of Manufacturers, e-mail:,

Technology Assessment Group, email:,

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This article was originally published in the February 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Rush Hour.

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