Disintermediation on Steroids

When President-elect Donald Trump tweeted: “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” a month ago, he might very well have completed the process of disintermediating the media establishment itself.

Since that time, he has put the nail in the coffin several times over.

The process of disintermediation has been going on for some time based not only on the Internet, of course, but also technology as a whole.

Simple emails dislodged the traditional stock brokerage industry in the mid to late 1990’s from their stodgy mothball sniffing at Merrill Lynch through what amounted to discount email orders from Charles Schwab, eventually E*Trade, Ameritrade, and so forth. Today, direct access trading platforms have completely disintermediated virtually any aspect of what we understood to be financial advisors.

The same had already happened in the travel industry which, by this point, has virtually put most travel agents out of business, except those who provide packages that require some touch and feel to complete the value proposition.

Does anybody really use a mortgage broker anymore or do they just simply go online and use mortgage platforms such as Quicken or Ditech?

Disintermediation is not just directed towards actual industries, it’s carried by the technology itself. Emails matured to actual software programs, which further matured to Internet-based solutions, of late replaced by apps such as those which Uber provides for hailing a ride and now securing food delivery.

The march goes on.

The media have not been immune from disintermediation. Newspapers have fallen or been absorbed across the country and print periodicals have shifted online, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, with a balancing act attempting to support print with online revenue and sometimes vice versa, most often unsuccessfully.

But with direct channels of communication, bypassing the media entirely — be they through Facebook or Twitter — the relevance of the media as we knew them, continues to become problematic, at least with respect to timeliness.

When President-elect Donald Trump brought his penchant to tweet daily on subjects of all dimensions at any time of day or night direct to the public, he not only communicated without any media censorship or interpretation, but he also did so in real time. The media were not reporting what President-elect Trump had said to the public. The public already knew what Donald Trump said. And even better, he had first-mover advantage in managing perceptions before the media could.

It is a euphemism to suggest that the Internet is a disrupter. Of course it’s a disrupter. It is also a euphemism to suggest that the Internet is an agent of disintermediation in virtually every industry or area where the dissemination of information or services is relevant. But with the specter of four years of tweets from the most powerful leader in the world — one particularly comfortable with and enamored by the medium — it is highly likely that the media themselves will be disintermediated from the process — certainly painfully, if not fatally.