Thursday, March 05, 2015

How to Seize the Opportunities When Megatrends Collide

Sorry for missing February…a lot of stuff going on.

Even though you may think your business is immune to these mega-trends, I ask you to REALLY think through the implications--the impact of where these trends intersect can be a source of great new ideas

Business operates today in a world of accelerating change. In the United States, it took 76 years half the population to own a telephone. The smartphone achieved the same penetration in less than a decade. It took France 100 years to double the share of its over-60 population within the labor force, from 7 to 14 percent. China, India, and Brazil will make the same leap in less than 30 years. Due to the whirlwind pace of global forces, a phenomenal amount of value can be created or destroyed more quickly today than at any other point in history.  
The megatrends framework can help any private- or public-sector leader think more clearly about complex external trends, and help develop an ordered, prudent, and proactive strategy for facing them. Its basic building blocks are five historical patterns active in the world today that have left their mark on all aspects of the world’s economic and social fabric. 
1. Demographic and social change: the combination of greater life expectancy, declining birthrates in many parts of the world, and unprecedented rates of human migration, accompanied by a gradual increase in the status of women and greater ethnic and social diversity within most countries.
2. Shifts in global economic power: in particular, the much-noted expansion of prosperity in emerging economies at faster rates than in the industrialized world, leading to momentous changes in consumption patterns and a rebalancing of international relations.
3. Rapid urbanization: the massive expansion of cities around the world, through a combination of migration and childbirth, with major implications for infrastructure, land use, traffic, employment, quality of life, and culture.
4. Climate change and resource scarcity: the rapidly increasing demand for energy, food, and water, in a finite world with limited natural resources and even more limited capacity for carbon dioxide and a wide variety of other effluents.
5. Technological breakthroughs: the transformation of business and everyday life through the development and use of new kinds of digitally enabled innovations in fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, fabrication (including 3D printing), cloud computing, and the Internet of Things.
Each megatrend has already happened to some extent. The aging of Western populations, the migration of economic activity toward Asia, the explosive growth of cities around the world, the depletion of forests and fisheries, and the continued march forward of high technology are already part of our experience. This means that they are also destined to interact. They will not just coincide; they will collide, with disruptive or transformative changes rippling out into nearly every industry around the world.

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