Here are several excerpts from an insightful post by Mark Schaefer about a McKinsey report on tech-enabled business trends, Ten Social Media and Technology Mega-trends To Watch. Be sure to check out the original source article for much more discussion on each of these trends:
1. Crowd-sourcing moves into the mainstream – In the past few years, the ability to organize communities of Web participants to develop, market, and support products and services has moved from the margins of business practice to the mainstream. Wikipedia and a handful of open-source software developers were the pioneers. But in signs of the steady march forward, 70 percent of executives recently surveyed said that their companies regularly created value through Web communities.
2. Making the network the organization – Companies are pushing substantially beyond crowdsourcing to build and manage flexible employee networks that extend across internal and external borders. The recession underscored the value of such flexibility in managing volatility.
3. Knowledge worker productivity – Knowledge workers typically are highly-paid employees, so increasing their productivity is critical. Collaboration technologies are emerging to do just that.
4. Growing the ‘Internet of Things’ – With RFID technologies, products themselves are becoming elements of an information system, with the ability to capture, compute, communicate, and collaborate around information — something that has come to be known as the “Internet of Things.”
Embedded with sensors, actuators, and communications capabilities, such objects will soon be able to absorb and transmit information on a massive scale and, in some cases, to adapt and react to changes in the environment automatically. These “smart” assets can make processes more efficient, give products new capabilities, and spark novel business models.
5. Experimentation and big data – Data are flooding in at rates never seen before — doubling every 18 months— as a result of greater access to customer data from public, proprietary, and purchased sources, as well as new information gathered from the social web and these newly-deployed smart assets. These trends are broadly known as “big data.” Companies are taking data use to new levels, using IT to support rigorous, constant business experimentation that guides decisions and to test new products, business models, and innovations in customer experience. This trend has the potential to drive a radical transformation in research, innovation, and marketing.
6. Wiring for a sustainable world – Information technology’s share of the world’s environmental footprint is growing because of the ever-increasing demand for IT capacity and services. Electricity produced to power the world’s data centers generates greenhouse gases on the scale of countries such as Argentina or the Netherlands, and these emissions could increase fourfold by 2020. The use of IT in areas such as smart power grids, efficient buildings, and better logistics planning could eliminate five times the carbon emissions that the IT industry produces.
7. Imagining anything as a service – Technology now enables companies to monitor, measure, customize, and bill for asset use at a more granular level than ever before. Asset owners can therefore create services around what have traditionally been sold as products, or even by-products. B2B customers enjoy these service offerings because they allow companies to purchase units of a service and to account for them as a variable cost rather than undertake large capital investments. Consumers also like this “paying only for what you use” model, which helps them avoid large expenditures, as well as the hassles of buying and maintaining a product.
8. The age of the multi-sided business model – Multi-sided business models create value through interactions among multiple players rather than traditional one-on-one transactions or information exchanges.
9. Innovating from Third World countries – Disruptive business models arise when technology combines with extreme market conditions, such as customer demand for very low price points, poor infrastructure, hard-to-access suppliers, and low cost curves for talent. In other words, developing nations may be a wellspring of innovation. Some of these “extreme” business models are spreading to traditional markets thereby creating new global competitors.
10. Producing public good on the grid – The role of governments in shaping global economic policy will expand in coming years. Technology will be an important factor in this evolution by facilitating the creation of new types of public goods while helping to manage them more effectively. This last trend is broad in scope and draws upon many of the other trends described above.