by Balaji Narasimhan

The nostalgia knowledge economy

Dec 14, 2015
CIOEnterprise StorageiOS

Some say age is just a number. It's more than that, and CIOs will do well to help their companies capture memories for creating retro products tomorrow

As I type this piece, my beloved Jawa bike is still at the mechanic’s awaiting a new armature coil that will deliver turbocharged performance. Since my bike was made in 1972 (she’s older than me by one year) you can’t walk into a store and buy the coil–it has to be custom made for the bike (my bike has so many custom parts that one of my colleagues says that I’m the Valentino Rossi of IDG India).

Today, changing the point set coil to an electronic coil is “new” for me–but what if one day somebody wants to go retro and change an electronic coil to a point set coil? This is not an academic point–today, to make an oft-repeated point, India has more than 50 percent of its population below the age of 25; but if you look 25 years into the future, in 2040 all these people who are today 25 will be 50–and a certain percentage of them will be wanting products that are current or retro today.

It is a huge market, but to get an authentic feel, you need knowledge of today’s products. Many of the products that people will want from today’s era will not be available in 2040, which means that CIOs will have to capture data about them–high-res images, product data, how they are made, etc.–and save it for the future.

This is a lot of data, so CIOs may possibly want to do this for only classic or iconic products that their companies have made. One day in the future, people may want to recreate the first iPad or the first iPod, so data on how this can be built–by a company, if not by a DIY enthusiast–needs to be saved. But there is a huge market for other products too–for example, what if you are 25 today and the first iPad you’ve bought is the Air 2 and you want to rebuild it 25 years later just for the nostalgia feel? Apple can possibly make big bucks by releasing such retro versions–with retro feel, but modern performance–in 2040.

Technology may not be a great example market, but what of other areas? Some people may prefer rosewood chairs made with designs that are a century old, and furniture companies can make a killing by addressing such a niche. Auto companies may also find a niche for cars that look like they were made in the 1930s–meeting modern day emission norms, of course.

All this is a lot of data, and it has to be archived almost indefinitely, so CIOs will have to spend time architecting storage systems that can store data safely for long periods of time.

According to the UN, by 2050, India will have 48 million people aged 80 or over (see chart). Population can be viewed as a burden or as a market. Before they turn 80, they will have to turn 50, and companies can make big bucks by pandering to their nostalgic whims.