Nearly Un-Obsolete

15 or 20 years ago, when you needed to trade stocks or fly somewhere – you contacted an agent. Most likely over a landline phone.

Those agents existed because they had access.

They’re nearly extinct now because access is ubiquitous.

So ubiquitous that it’s nearly impossible navigate the options without being paralyzed by choice.

I don’t have the desire to be an expert in the nuances of global airline pricing and scheduling – I just want a cost-effective, worry-free, family vacation in Europe.

There’s not a checkbox for that in any of the travel sites.

And to really understand what that means to me – requires at least an email, but most likely a phone call. The value is no longer in the access. It’s in the expertise and the ability to more effectively navigate the choice architecture. The need isn’t just in travel.

It’s in all significant purchases.

Real Estate agents still exist. Their value was always in navigating the selection and purchase processes. There’s even a word for this type of purchaser-oriented representation: Buyers Agent.

A few venues where a domain-specific buyers agent isn’t yet obvious; healthcare, auto sales, travel.

Now, roll in an evolving notion that the more important/busy/valuable/highly-paid you are – the less direct interaction with technology you’ll have and the more direct interaction with people you’ll have. And the further down that scale you go – the more direct interaction with technology, less with people.

Put these 2 notions together and I foresee an increased demand for what looks an awful lot like the yesterday’s secretaries.