While it’s not explicitly mentioned in the earlier Star Trek series before Discovery, the Star Trek universe, as described, is a “post-scarcity economy.”
If you are unaware of what that is, its an economy that has figured out how to eliminate scarce resources. Assumingly, in the Star Trek universe, they have figured out how to create anything via manipulating matter at the sub-atomic level. This allows you to create any material from any other material; you could conceivably generate gold and diamonds and anything that we currently consider to be valuable out of dirt and rocks.
This kind of transmutation, long sought after by alchemists for centuries, is not all that far fetched. It’s conceivable that at some time in the next 100 years, we will be able to figure it out.
Once we do, then scarcity will be a thing of the past – and our society will change drastically.
Just think of everyone who is starving, everyone who is homeless, everyone who is working to build things to generate money will no longer need to. Our economy and culture work on the premise of scarce resources – once that is eliminated, some posit that we will enter “a perfect world” – where there is no want, as every desire can be fulfilled for free (or eventually at very low cost) for everyone. Instead of competing against each other in the game of life to earn money to buy things and experiences, things can simply be created out of anything.
All things will become freely available to everyone. Without that driver, the human race could rise from focusing on gathering resources to gathering experiences and self-actualization. People would live their desires, instead of spending time earning money towards their desires, which is where most of our customers are in today’s world.
Why am I telling you this? Sure, 100 years seems far out, but what if I told you are your customers already chafing for this future?
They are already starting to prioritize experiences over things, and are prizing time over money. They realize that they are not spending their lives experiencing what they want to experience, but spending their time earning the resources required to experience. There is already a subculture of people out there who work long enough to pay for the next experience, then experience it, and only go back to work when they’ve determined how long they need to work until they can take their next planned experience.
To these customers, time is an issue, and they prefer not to use the tools we give them to do the work to fulfill their desires. They prefer that the work is done for them. As long as they get what they want, then they are happy to allow others to complete it. But there is a gap between what we do and what they want. How is that gap filled? We need to expand to fill that gap, even if its something we don’t normally do.
Take a banking example: do banks feel that they should help their customers get a better paying job? No, they wouldn’t dream of it. But why not? Isn’t their customer’s well being tied to their financial situation? Can you imagine the customer loyalty a bank would engender if it were to start helping their customers with their careers?
In a perfect world, we would work to fulfill all of our customer’s desires, not just the ones we can currently provide as whatever kind of company you are. The next time you ideate, look beyond what you are, look beyond the set of products, services, and tools that you provide your customers and think “what do they really want” – not just what you as a bank/retailer/tech/internet company, or whatever can provide.