Gerd’s Guide to Disruption, Part 3: Transition Traumas, Brands with Purpose, Interdependence not Independence

Greetings everyone, this is part 3 of my ongoing series on disruptive trends and how they will impact our near-term future (i.e. the next 3-5 years). Part 1 is here, part 2 is here. If you enjoy these posts please feel free to share them anywhere you want – and/or comment below. Thanks!  Update: download the PDF with all 3 posts: Gerd’s Guide to Disruption 2013

Continued from previous points 1-12:

13) Transition Trauma Guaranteed. We are currently experiencing a very unique combination of digitally-fueled disruptions: rising globalization and much increased economic interdependence of regions, nations, companies and people, widespread and hyper-effective socio-political activism via social networks and UGC media (especially video, as Koni2012’s 96Million views have shown), the rise of almost Wikileakean openness expectations by consumers and a new kind of ‘tyranny of transparency’ that has engulfed people around the globe, radical consumer empowerment based on waves of technological leaps and what is often referred to the ‘consumerization of IT’, and an overall sense of ambiguity and instability. These trends, to me, are showing that we are heading into an ‘it-all-depends’ – world rather than an either/or world. In this future, many yes/no situations of the past are  becoming Maybe’s – and this poses a real challenge to business planning and operations. Linear thinking can now be a real disadvantage; lateral, organic and fluid approaches are becoming a requirement to success.

It is, in my view, most likely that permanent uncertainty is becoming the defining nature of business for quite some time, but certainly during this ‘transition trauma’ phase (i.e. at least 3-5 years). This is a fact that we must adapt to while we move from products to services, from industrial age to the information age to the experience age, from stuff to bits, and from ownership to access (as is happening in music, movies, TV, books, games…).  I propose, however, that those that can quickly and collaboratively build new, digital-society-native ecosystems, products and services will prosper exceedingly and faster than ever before, quickly outperforming those that only offer marginal improvements on ‘business as usual’. The future is clearly much more about re-imagination than it is about ‘making things work better’ – i.e. it is about offensive innovation rather than sustaining innovation (as Clay Christensen recently put it).

14) All brands will become publishers and broadcasters – or better yet, ‘narrowcasters’ – (and yes, especially B2B brands). Trust will absolutely – and somewhat darwinistically – become the prime currency, the key driver of business relationships and buying behavior that effects actual purchase decisions.  Reputation, influence and so-called social capital are already huge factors that have attracted 100s of vendors most of which are desperately trying to measure and define these soft factors and then turn them into machine-readable algorithms that they hope will eventually take over the entire advertising and marketing business (good luck with that).

In the very near future, in my view, marketing will be almost solely about trust-building/keeping and creating purpose (see Pepsi’s Refresh Project, Patagonia’s ‘don’t buy this jacket’- campaign, or NikeWomen, or read more at HBR). Maybe eventually Return-on-Involvement will even substitute or materially complement our old-fashioned concept of RoI (return-on-investment) as the ultimate metric of success (sorry, CFOs). Intangibles values will matter more and more, and perception will increasingly define value – not (just) price versus features, and bang for the buck. The ‘economy of intangibles’ is bound to accelerate, creating the need for new models of monetization and ownership.

15) Independence and ‘castle-building’ (yes, think Apple, or many financial institutions, or, naturally, the music business) will give way to interdependence and ‘network building’ as the key operating paradigms. Companies will increasingly forgo the traditional empire model for the ‘networked’ model in order to be able to innovate faster and wider. Ownership of patents and trademarks will matter less than ownership of minds (and…hearts? Likes?)

‘Partnership companies’ become the norm, and friction-as-a-business-model will be unheard of in less than a decade (read my book on the Friction is Fiction topic, here).

So far so good – and see you next week!


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