Monday, December 28, 2009

5 Things That Changed Business in the 2000’s

The aught years have been a strange, exciting, and scary time for many businesses. In the 2000’s business experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The last ten years have brought scandals (Madoff, Enron), booms and busts (dot coms, housing) technological advances, a global recession, and many important lessons that should guide us into the 2010’s.

With the decade coming to a close let’s take a look at the things that changed business in the 2000’s.


Think back, and try to remember how you used to search the internet before Google. Yep, I can barely remember either. Google single handedly revolutionized the way we all interact with the internet and the tactics we use to get our businesses found on the web. In 2000 Google was a small search engine with a loyal following; by 2006 the word Google was included in both the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary. In fact, I had to Google, Google just to write this.


In 1999 the first BlackBerry device was introduced as a two-way pager. By 2002 the first smartphone BlackBerry was rolled out bringing with it a host of biz friendly applications and the business world hasn’t been the same since.

For better or worse many of us are now attached to our work literally at the hip. Where once we had to be by a computer in order to do anything work related, we can now perform any number of tasks right on our phone. The BalckBerry has been great for businesses for sure, maybe not so great for those of us now addicted to our “CrackBerry”.

Social Media

One of the major themes of the decade was a need for instant gratification, nowhere is this better typified then in the explosion of social media applications.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wordpress, etc.  whichever one you or your business is on and you’re most likely on all of them, these social media platforms have changed the way we interact with friends, family, and most importantly to businesses…consumers.

Booms, Busts, and Bailouts
First it was the dot com boom. In 1995 buying into dot com’s was all the rage, by 2001 it went from dot com to “dot bomb” as the bottom fell out on the dot com market and investors found out just how shaky many of these companies foundations really were.

Next, it was the housing bubble that burst. In the first half of the decade housing prices were at an all time high with property values around the nation jumping in some places more than 80%.

It wouldn’t last long as the bubble began to burst in 2006 and by 2008 the Case-Shiller home price index reported its largest price drop in history, launching the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

The stock market was no stranger to the wild boom/bust swings of the 2000’s either.

In 2007 the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared to record heights. On April 27, 2007 the Dow closed above the 13,000 mark for the first time in history and continued to surge upward.

On Oct. 9, 2007 the Dow hit an all time high of 14,164.53. Yet, like seemingly everything else in this decade as soon as something reached record heights it was poised to set record lows.

And that’s exactly what happened on Sep. 29, 2008. When word spread on Wall Street that the House had rejected the government’s $700 billion bailout plan, the Dow fell 778 points, its largest single day drop in history.

Speaking of government bailouts the 2000’s saw its share of those as well. It began with the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act to help ensure that America’s banking system would not fail. While American institutions like the Lehman Brothers were allowed to go under, other institutions deemed to big to fail, like AIG, were kept afloat by the government’s bailout package.

Then it was the American auto industry which needed a bailout. Though Ford did not take any bailout money Chrysler and GM took billions in tax-payer dollars only to eventually file for bankruptcy anyway. The government then promised billions more to keep the companies afloat.

How did all this change business? Well, it taught us that bad lending practices, and living well beyond our means is simply… bad business.

The Great Recession
Undoubtedly nothing has had a greater impact on business and on many of our lives as the economic recession.

Beginning in the United States in December 2007 and predicted by some to last into 2011 the “Great Recession” has had and will continue to have a profound impact on how we conduct business.

Though the actual origins of the recession are still being debated there is no doubt that it resulted from a confluence of events including: reckless lending practices, sub-prime loans, a sharp increase in oil and food prices, the bursting of the housing bubble and the collapse of the Lehman Brothers.

As a result many businesses were forced to lay off thousands of employees and the unemployment rate in the U.S. went from 4.9% in December 2007 to 10.9% in October 2009.

Though there are signs that the recession is waning the real question for businesses is not when the recession will end, but how can we prevent it from happening again.

No comments: