Global Mega-Trends & Implications for High-Tech, Part 1

You would have to be buried in an underground cave not to know that major changes are occurring in the world today. Societies are being reformed in positive and sometimes in less-positive ways; countries are fracturing, with new ones emerging and old boundaries fading; while technology developments are reshaping businesses and turning many of our old ways on their heads.

For EBN readers, the social impact of the changes occurring around us, which research firm {complink 9171|Frost & Sullivan} has described as “Mega Trends,” are as important as the most-closely held strategic initiatives, new product plans, or other go-to-market plans. This is because these trends are influencing many of the decisions being made by individuals, corporate entities, organizations, and governments, thereby seriously affecting your company's ability to make profits and retain or gain market share.

Before launching into what these trends are and why you should take time to reflect upon them, here's a definition of what constitutes mega-trends, according to Frost & Sullivan:

    Mega Trends are global, sustained and macro-economic forces of development that impact business, economy, society, cultures and personal lives thereby defining our future world and its increasing pace of change.

Have I already noted that these mega-trends will shape our future? Well, let me restate it in another way. At the beginning of this century a number of mega-trends were identified as transformative forces for the next decade. While their impacts are still playing out in our world today, it's clear the companies that took notice of them and exploited them are making bucket-loads of profits today, while those that failed to quickly explore the implications for their businesses are struggling.

Among the trends from 2000 were:

  • China as an emerging superpower. China had displaced Japan to become the world's second-biggest economy. How long before it becomes No. 1 is now a field of study amongst economists.
  • Internet retail and e-commerce. Google is still King of the Hill, but Facebook, Baidu, and several startups are gearing up to snatch its crown.
  • Shift from an industrial to an information society. If you only make widgets today, you are in the commodity business. Apple still makes widgets, but they talk, sing, play, and mesmerize the user with hundreds of thousands of apps
  • Outsourcing as a business model. This needs no further explanation.

I hope I've set the stage for why I believe it's important to pay close attention to Frost & Sullivan's mega-trends. Here is the first batch. I will focus on another set in a follow-up:

  • Development of mega-cities, regions, and corridors.
  • Frost & Sullivan believes we will see the emergence over the next 10 years of additional mega-cities with populations exceeding 10 million. In other localities, though, mega-regions will emerge from the combination of suburbs to form huge metropolises numbering 15 million or more. The mega-cities and mega-regions will be linked by mega-corridors, such as the Hong Kong/Shenzhen/Guangzhou region of China, with populations exceeding 120 million. Naturally, all these mega-cities, regions, and corridors will need transportation and other infrastructure, including high-tech communication services and products.

  • Smart (green) cities replaced by smart (total) concepts.
  • Companies, individuals, and governments are moving on from the implementation of “green” or environmentally friendly ideas and products to the concept of doing everything in a totally “smart” way. This would involve being conservative and more effective in city planning, family planning, construction, energy use, and mobility and result in the creation of smart cities, “more than 50 percent of which will be from Europe and North America,” according to Frost & Sullivan. China and India will “see over 50 new sustainable cities,” the research firm predicts.

  • Smart market opportunity.
  • The convergence of technology is likely to result in the “convergence of competition,” according to Frost & Sullivan. In this scenario, companies will most likely collaborate to win customer attention and will encroach onto each other's turfs, sparking new rivalry even amongst current business partners. This is already happening, as in the case of Apple and Google, each of which has transformed its business to make them rivals in the mobile operating platform area. The ferocity of the rivalry between the two companies has eclipsed the fact Eric Schmidt, who was Google's CEO until recently, was once on Apple's board of directors.

    Companies that will be affected by the concept of “smart market opportunity” are currently involved in IP networks, digital technology, analysis software, wireless communication, network security, power electronics, renewable energy, automation, demand-side management, connectivity of devices, monitoring and sensing, as well as smart grid integration. Players in these areas include Areva, ABB, GE, Siemens, IBM, SAP, Cisco, Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Rockwell Automation, Honeywell, Schneider Electric, and Johnson Controls.

    The extent of cooperation and rivalry that will develop among these companies will only become apparent over the next few years, but the seedlings are already evident in the relationship, for instance, between companies like Google and Microsoft, which started their rivalry in one segment — search engines — and then extended it to the mobile communications space.

  • E-mobility.
  • This is not about mobile communication but more about mobile transportation. Frost & Sullivan believes “over 40 million electric 2-wheelers and 4-wheelers will be sold annually around the globe in 2020.” This means in the next decades, companies supplying components into the mobile transportation market could see surging demand for their products. Potential players in this area include Sanyo, Smith Newton, and electric utilities, charging station developers, systems and battery manufacturers, and system integrators. Companies involved in telematics and other value-added services, including semiconductor vendors offering power management products, are also potential beneficiaries of this emerging global mega-trend.

  • Geo-socialization.
  • This is already happening, but the movement towards mass socialization is bound to accelerate in the next years with sites like Facebook ending up as the first-movers in a global trend. Services and products used in geo-socialization will be offered by companies involved in a wide range of industries, including diverse sectors like restaurants, marketing, networking, real estate, and transportation.

    To benefit from this mega-trend, manufacturers and service providers will need to target their products to serve four distinct sub-trends. These, according to Frost & Sullivan, include personalization and individualization (social networking profiles and personalized products); techno savviness and 24×7 connectivity (gaming gizmos, smart phones, microblogs); civic and environmental concerns (eco-transport, paper bags instead of plastic, paperless banking); and demanding and impatient users (instant text messaging, instant chat, and speed-oriented gaming).

In the concluding part of this blog, I will focus on the other mega-trends identified by Frost & Sullivan. These include: reverse brain drain from developed to developing countries; new technology developments such as proliferation of satellites for multiple innovative applications; information warfare among nations and companies; robotic technology applications; the virtual world; and innovation strategies.

14 comments on “Global Mega-Trends & Implications for High-Tech, Part 1

  1. Ariella
    April 14, 2011

    Do you predict that rivalries will increase, or that down the road, some companies will decide to pool resources and collaborate?

  2. bolaji ojo
    April 14, 2011

    Ariella, I expect a combination of rising rivalry and partnerships. The trend is for companies to move into markets where they currently don't have a position but which have limited barriers to entry. At the same time, I expect many companies will lose out completely. If your market is becoming irrelevant in the new dispensation, you should be looking at new opportunities. Companies are already doing this and they don't care anymore whether or not current or former partners are gored as they enter their markets.

  3. Anand
    April 14, 2011

    “over 40 million electric 2-wheelers and 4-wheelers will be sold annually around the globe in 2020.”


     I think this is bound to happen. Oil rates have already crossed 120$. With rising oil prices customers will be left with no choice but to adopt electric vehicles.  Do you think electric vehicles are the only alternatives to petro/diesel cars ?

  4. DataCrunch
    April 14, 2011

    Hi Bolaji, I would add mobile commerce/payment as a Mega-Trend.  I can see the mobile device basically becoming the next credit card.  

  5. itguyphil
    April 14, 2011

    There's that…. or a bicycle?

  6. bolaji ojo
    April 14, 2011

    Electric vehicles represent the major alternative to the fuel injection system that is widely used today. When consumers start to complain and vote with their money manufacturers will pay greater attention to electric vehicles. Right now, the forces arrayed against electric vehicles are greater than consumer demand for these products. Oil companies, refineries, gasoline distributors, auto manufacturers and the services industry don't want their business to go away, which is unlikely to change until events pull them in a different direction.

  7. prabhakar_deosthali
    April 15, 2011

    With all those high tech , high speed communications and most of transactions happening through one's mobile,  I would guess the trend to be less and less vehicles on the road, less demand for gasolene and gasolene prices going down. But despite all these modern gizmos, social networking, virtual offices and what not why people have to travel everyday and spend hours on the roads in the traffic  jams, I do not understand.

  8. mfbertozzi
    April 15, 2011

    Well Bolaji, that's the point. Determination in pursuing the path is still not strong at all. Do you think Govs could play a key role in speed-up green vehicles readiness at large for the market? If so, could we think current prudent approach from them is due to possible impacts (cuts) for jobs from “legacy” industries and they are afraid of?

  9. Jay_Bond
    April 15, 2011

    It is always interesting to look at past predictions and see if they became reality, or if they completely bombed. What I find interesting is the talk of large metropolises forming. I can easily see this happening throughout the world particularly in large growth regions. I would be curious to see how this would take shape in the U.S. While we have large cities continuing to grow, I highly doubt were going to see New Jersey and New York merging.

    One would think that with all the advancements going on in today’s society that you would actually have less vehicles on the road, but yet it seems to be growing every day. Some of this growth is due to geographical regions not having any alternative transportation for workers. As much as I would like to see alternative fuel or electric cars grow drastically, I think it is going to take a serious setback or government intervention to really see demand grow.


  10. bolaji ojo
    April 15, 2011

    Transitions take time and even though this is not so obvious, we are indeed driving less and conducting more of our businesses through electronic communication channels. Also, more people work from home offices today than in the last 10 years and the trend is likely to continue. The mega-trends identified by Frost & Sullivan are in a sense not some fantasy stuff. They are happening around us and the short time between now and 2020 give us (and businesses) ample time to both take advantage of these and also see them evolve — or not evolve.

  11. Ariella
    April 15, 2011

    Telecommuting is a great option for many. But some people refuse to allow it — even if the job can be done just as well from a remot location — because they don't trust the employees to really put in the hours if they do not come into a set workplace.  It is possible, though, to establish quotas for productivity.  That makes more sense than punching a clock or having cameras built into the computers to spy on the employees.  As for employee preference, some actually like coming in to a place where they can interact with other people.  Some people propose the ideal balance would allow for telecommuting with regularly scheduled office time. 

  12. Wale Bakare
    April 15, 2011

     Infact, we are beginning to see developments and implementation of all these around us. In Europe for instance,  Electric Vehicles are now plying roads – vehicle charging bays on the increase. So also, one of the leading automobile companies in the world – Jaguar Land Rover has already begun implementing vehicle infortainment system.

    In addition to that,  from customers point of view – i see INTERnational NETworks (INTERNET Technology) as the focal point to them all.

  13. Anna Young
    April 15, 2011

    Bolaji, this is a concise description and analysis of the World today and the vital roles technology is playing in shaping the society, communities, businesses locally, globally now and for the future. It is indeed a Global Mega trend.

    Smart green concept is already taking shape in Europe, for example, emergence of Smart communities, smart health care services and so on.

    For the High tech industries, it’s generating revenues and will continue to despite all odds.



  14. hwong
    April 18, 2011

    Actually alot of high tech companies nowaday let you work remotely. There are still offices but it's not mandated to go in. Even if not 100% remote, companies still allow folks to work 2 or 3 days from home. That only applies to some of the software companies. It doesn't apply to retail or even distribution companies. It would makes sense because customer facing jobs cannot do without being present.

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