At last year's Excelerate Lab's demo day, Jeff Hoffman, the founder of Priceline.com, explained how he brainstormed new ideas. He said he would look at newspapers, and all kinds of other sources, every day -- looking for changes in laws, technology and trends that might open up for a new way to solve an existing problem. In this way, he noticed that technology now allowed consumers to name their own price. This would never have been possible previously - say in the 1980s. It would have been infeasible for an airline to ask every consumer to name their price and pick the ones it wanted to serve. Since then, technology has progressed and changed the rules.
Macro-level changes, such as changes in technology, are sometimes so subtle and come about so slowly, it's hard to appreciate how much the world really has changed. We only have to look at this cool little video from 1983 to realize how stark the difference is between the world as it was then and as it is now. What products and services are still stuck in that era, waiting for for a startup to reinvent it knowing what we now do about the world?