The world’s changing. In the new book No Ordinary Disruption, its authors (Dobbs, Manyika & Woetzel) explain the trends reshaping the world and why leaders must adjust to a new reality. What does that mean to us marketing people?             

As you’ll remember from your studying at school, in the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, one new force changed everything. Today we’re undergoing four fundamental disruptive forces - any of which would rank among the greatest changes the global economy has ever seen. It is also happening ten times faster and at 300 times the scale, or roughly 3,000 times the impact. Although we all know that these disruptions are happening, most of us fail to comprehend their full magnitude and the second- and third-order effects that will result.

1. - Beyond Shanghai: The age of urbanization

The first trend is the shifting of economic activity and dynamism to emerging markets like China and to cities within those markets. These emerging markets are going through industrial and urban revolutions, shifting the center of the world economy east and south. In 2000, 95 percent of the Fortune Global 500—the world’s largest international companies including Airbus, IBM, Nestlé, Shell, and The Coca-Cola Company—were headquartered in developed economies. By 2025, we can expect nearly half of the world’s large companies—defined as those with revenue of $1 billion or more—to be headquartered in emerging markets.

What’s your international PR strategy in emerging markets?

2. The tip of the iceberg: Accelerating technological change

The second disruptive force is the acceleration in the scope, scale, and economic impact of technology. Technology has always been a great force in overturning the status quo. The difference today is the sheer ubiquity of technology in our lives and the speed of change. Accelerated adoption invites accelerated innovation. In 2009, two years after the iPhone’s launch, developers had created around 150,000 applications. By 2014, that number had hit 1.2 million, and users had downloaded more than 75 billion total apps, more than ten for every person on the planet. As fast as innovation has multiplied and spread in recent years, it is poised to change and grow at an exponential speed beyond the power of human intuition to anticipate.

Processing power and connectivity are only part of the story. Their impact is multiplied by the data revolution, which places unprecedented amounts of information in the hands of consumers, businesses, the media etc, and the proliferation of technology-enabled business models.

How are you using new technologies to interact with the media wherever they are located?

3. Getting old isn’t what it used to be: Responding to the challenges of an aging world

The human population is getting older. Fertility is falling, and the world’s population is graying dramatically. For the first time in human history, aging could mean that the planet’s population will plateau in most of the world.

Let’s look at real numbers - the European Commission expects that by 2060, Germany’s population will shrink by one-fifth, and the number of people of working age will fall from 54 million in 2010 to 36 million in 2060, a level that is forecast to be less than France’s.

A smaller workforce will place a greater onus on productivity for driving growth and may cause us to rethink the economy’s potential. Caring for large numbers of elderly people will put severe pressure on government finances.

And what about how we staff the marketing and media relations and of companies. Who are we going to staff, and where do their relationships need to be strong?

4. Trade, people, finance, and data: Greater global connections

The final disruptive force is the degree to which the world is much more connected through trade and through movements in capital, people, and information (data and communication). Trade and finance have long been part of the globalization story but, in recent decades, there’s been a significant shift. Instead of a series of lines connecting major trading hubs in Europe and North America, the global trading system has expanded into a complex, intricate, sprawling web.

The links forged by technology have marched on uninterrupted by recent recessions and with increasing speed, ushering in a dynamic new phase of globalization, creating unmatched opportunities, and provoking unexpected volatility.

When it comes to the future of marketing and media relations, it is going to be archaic to think that we can compartmentalize our services by geography – we are going to have to be global.

What does this mean?

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. Globalization benefited the well-established and well-connected, opening up new markets with relative ease. Labor markets functioned quite reliably. Resource prices fell.

But that’s not how things are working now—and it’s not how they are likely to work in the future. If we look at the world through a rearview mirror and make decisions on the basis of the intuition built on our experience, we could well be wrong.


The world’s changing – how are you changing?

Is your future marketing strategy future proof?