Welcome to the Millennial Age
The next ten years shall bear witness to social businesses outperforming traditional businesses in a big way, and the reason for this can be summed up in one word… millennials.
Over half the world’s population is now younger than 30 years old. Two generations have now grown up with the internet. It doesn’t take a degree in anthropology to notice that the world is very different today than it was 30 years ago.
In 2010, 1.2 billion people were online globally. By 2020, that number will reach 5 billion. Nearly 3 billion more people, along with their collective intelligence, will be available for value creation and delivery via smartphones, tablets and internet cafes. The capabilities being unleashed are unprecedented.
Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles; Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content; Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory; Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation-provider, owns no real estate. The institutional and ownership powers of old are being challenged by the empowering effect of the network.
Technology is eroding barriers to entry while challenging incumbents to transform. The internet makes it possible for customers to switch to better products in a heartbeat. It’s now possible for the tiny upstairs to compete with and outperform corporate giants.
A case in point is the online marketplace Etsy which unleashes the skills of designers and makers around the world using a platform that helps them compete with big retailers and global brands. By giving people the chance to buy unique items directly from artisans who make them, Etsy doesn’t just give these artisans a livelihood it also fosters relations between maker and consumer in ways unimaginable without internet.
30 years ago, if you wanted to reach a billion people, you needed to be Coca-Cola with employees in a hundred countries. Today you can be a kid in a garage who uploads an app onto a few key platforms. Your competition is no longer the multinational corporations overseas, it’s the guy or gal in the Silicon Valley or Bandra (Mumbai) garage using the latest online tools to design and cloud print their latest innovation.
Today, social technologies mean we can often achieve more with a lot less ownership and infrastructure. Just read Whats App’s story. When they sold for $19billion to Facebook they employed less than 20 people full time. And it’s not just the Silicon Valley e-commerce stereo-types, this applies to manufacturers too (e.g. Local Motors).
Here are some ‘disruptors to BAU’ coming downstream: Crowd-powered businesses cutting out intermediaries, social entrepreneurs doing everything in partnership, the sharing economy, mobile-everything.
The best people do not want to work in bureaucratic organisations. They want to be in an environment that is lean and agile, exciting and creative, empowering and empathic, purposeful and passionate. They want to see the impact of their work on a day to day basis; they want to feel involved. And most importantly they want to feel a meaningful connection with the value they create, rather than feeling like lost cogs enslaved in the monolith of machine mentality.
What many of us crave for are more meaningful moments and life-experiences. More time to spend following our curiosity. More time to build nourishing relationships and friendship. More time to really experience the world as well as what is around us here and now. More time to enjoy the simple things in life, to be present with our loved ones, with our friends, acquaintances and strangers we meet along the way. Yet much of the time our working life starves us of what is most precious to us – time and space to become who we truly are – social, curious, playful and purposeful humans.
Each generation experiences significant change due to innovations, disruptions and shifting perspectives transforming our ways of operating and organizing in business and beyond. Yet, the times in which we live herald paradigmic and metamorphic shifts radically challenging what we do and the way we do it, calling into question our sense of purpose and demanding wholly new ways of creating and delivering value. This is in part due to the catalytic effect of digitization and globalization, and in part due to the urgent trilemma of economic, environmental and social challenges now upon us. Amid all this, there are complex shifts affecting each of us at deep and partly unconscious levels, challenging how we perceive ourselves, each other and the world around us. It is simultaneously an immensely exciting, liberating, scary and fearful time to be involved in the future of business. Welcome to the Millennial Age!
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It may be premature – but – Wishing You A Merry Christmas 2015.