The term exponential is routinely used in engineering, maths, and the sciences, meaning, in lay terms, that the rate of increase in the derivative of a factor increases faster than the increase in the factor itself. “Gobbldy Gook” to most marketers.
Moore’s law is perhaps the most widely known use of this equation, but is only one of many.
Futurist Ray Kurzweil cited many others in a fascinating TED talk a few years ago, in which he points out that exponential growth is a common feature of technological growth, we just have to recognise it when we see it.
Mitch Joels great blog got me thinking.
The growth of complexity in the practice of marketing; new channels, social media, blogs enabling anyone to be a published writer, 100 TV channels at the end of a remote, new industries, the emerging models of collaboration, and all the rest are not linear growth, they are growing by leveraging the principals of exponential maths. The first one is hard, and takes years, the next is much easier and doesn’t take much time, then there is an explosion.
The way we generally think about marketing, and certainly the way the senior management of most large corporations think about it, is still in the linear mode, when the explosion in the opportunities presented by marketing to communicate and connect is an exponential change.
Competitive advantage will accrue to those enterprises that are capable of recognising that marketing into the future will operate in a different dimension if you like, to the C20 notion of accountability dominated by financial measures. Measuring performance by a P&L and Balance sheet mentality that counts what has happened, rather than assessing what will happen, and recognising the opportunities presented by exponential marketing will be leaving huge opportunities on the table.