The press is full of trendy terms—Big Data, the Internet of Things, Digital Natives, Globalization, Social Media, etc.—that attempt to describe the complex technological and social changes that the world is currently experiencing. However, there is a danger in reducing complex social dynamics down to a few catchy buzzwords—trendy terms can act as intellectual shortcuts that fool people into thinking they understand these ideas when they really don’t.
Everyone knows change is coming. But underestimating the speed and impact of these changes will be the downfall of many businesses large and small in the coming years. In a world of constant disruption and uncertainty, however, CEOs who truly understand the key forces behind these changes will be in a better position to adapt and survive. Looking ahead, there are several horizon-level revolutions that business leaders should be aware of, because they are about to be felt with a force that is difficult to overstate.
Revolution #1: The End of the Information Age
Many people think we are still in the Information Age, but the truth is that we are leaving the Information Age behind and entering a new stage of human development fueled by global inter-connectedness and rapidly improving technologies of all kinds. The exponential growth and convergence of so many new technologies—combined with a growing population of tech- and media-savvy consumers—will usher in a revolutionary era of social change, the likes of which humanity has never seen before. In the future, companies will need to find ways to protect themselves from the inevitable disruptions that such changes will bring, while simultaneously recognizing the advantages and opportunities.
Revolution #2: The Shift From Institutional to Individual
One of the biggest power shifts of the 20th century was the shift from institutional power to individual power, and that isn’t going to stop. The Internet empowered individuals to communicate with anyone in the world, and now populations armed with nothing but cell phones are bringing down entire governments. Furthermore, institutions in all areas of life—education, health care, religion, media, business—are being forced to change simply because people now have more ability than ever to organize, mobilize, innovate, disrupt and demand.