Anticipating Social Forces of Change

by Jay Deragon on 03/28/2011

Most business managers, confronted with the influence of social media shaping the business landscape, assume that the influence is over hyped and not relevant to their business. Uninformed and lacking in knowledge today’s management ranks are headed for a rude awakening.

Business history is littered with examples of companies that missed important trends. Yet some will spot the changes and embrace them and thus creating new market opportunities.  Knowing what, why and how the emerging changes is critical to foresee the impact of change on organizations, society and economics. Knowing, preparing and leading change separates the winners from the losers.

What Are The Top Forces of Change?

Let’s consider a list of emerging dynamics that are fueling consumer expectations for change.

  1. People are expecting more for less. Less time, less hassle and expect to work less
  2. People are wired with the latest technology. Technology surrounds use, enables us as well as entangles us into non-productive activities. People are learning to use technology to save time and be more productive with their time.
  3. People are expecting more value. Value from relations, work, markets, merchants and governments. The driving value expectation is to be heard and to facilitate needed changes. People don’t want markets to tell them what is valuable rather they want markets to listen to what they consider valuable and deliver accordingly.
  4. People are influenced more by their social networks for news and information than traditional media.
  5. People are aggregating into tribes of common interest and using their collective voices to create greater influence.  Tribes are connecting with other tribes and finding common ground to create even more influence. Tribal consumption is changing capitalism.
  6. As mass consumption gives way to the wants of individuals, a historic transition in capitalism is unfolding. Capitalism is changing dramatically, from a focus on mass production to offerings customized for individuals
  7. The transformation is spreading rapidly from its digital roots. Over time, the way all companies create value must change.

Shoshana Zuboff from McKinsey says it best: We are moving from an era of mass consumption to one focused on the individual. Sharp increases in higher education, standards of living, social complexity, and longevity over the past century gave rise to a new desire for individual self-determination: having control over what matters, having one’s voice heard, and having social connections on one’s own terms. The leading edge of consumption is now moving from products and services to tools and relationships enabled by interactive technologies.

The fact is these changes in consumer behavior and expectations matter. Systematically spotting and acting on these forces of change helps companies to capture market opportunities by leveraging innovation to change their thinking, their models and how they interact with markets of consumption.

The digital economy is being fueled by a different set of values, perspectives and expectations. Understanding these dynamics is critical for businesses to adapt and capture explosive opportunities of growth. These forces are driving the emergence of this new world are too powerful to be denied.  To not recognize and embraces these forces of change is certain death to any organization.


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