In preparing for my keynote at the MegaTrends conference in Abu Dhabi this afternoon I have distilled my thinking into a new visual representation.
To gain insights the future we need to understand the intersection of three domains: Technology, Business, and Society.
In each of these domains we can distill one driving force that brings together the vast diversity of trends in these domains. These are:
Exponential Drivers. The most important technological drivers are all exponential: increased bandwidth, greater processing power, more storage, and the development of richer man-machine interfaces. These are driving a wide variety of fundamental shifts, not least an intensely connected and increasingly interdependent society and economy.
Commoditization. Almost all business drivers are resulting in the commoditization of most business activities. Vastly greater information access, accelerating speed to copy competitors and get to market, global markets, and an ongoing drive to squeeze out inefficiencies all result in an exorable drive to commoditization. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be massive value creation moving forward. The two spaces that escape and transcend commoditization are relationships and innovation (which itself is driven by relationships). A polarized economy will develop with on the one side commoditized products and services and on the other high-value offerings based on rich economic networks.
Expectations. Across all sectors of society, greater expectations are driving change. The poor have increased expectations for their quality of life, driving the emergence of another billion into the middle class globally. The affluent are seeking ways to spend their wealth, and are driven by increasing refinement in their lives. The rise of Web 2.0 technologies are helping to create an expectation of participation in every domain of society and government. Not least, we have increased expectations from our institutions, in terms of transparency, accountability, and their impact on the environment and society.
Together these three driving forces help define the landscape today. From this, clear action steps emerge. See my full presentation slides at the MegaTrends conference for some insights on this.