Advancing technologies and their swift adoption are upending traditional business models. Senior executives need to think strategically about how to prepare their organizations for the challenging new environment.
Two-and-a-half years ago, we described eight technology-enabled business trends that were profoundly reshaping strategy across a wide swath of industries. We showed how the combined effects of emerging Internet technologies, increased computing power, and fast, pervasive digital communications were spawning new ways to manage talent and assets as well as new thinking about organizational structures.
Since then, the technology landscape has continued to evolve rapidly. Facebook, in just over two short years, has quintupled in size to a network that touches more than 500 million users. More than 4 billion people around the world now use cell phones, and for 450 million of those people the Web is a fully mobile experience. The ways information technologies are deployed are changing too, as new developments such as virtualization and cloud computing reallocate technology costs and usage patterns while creating new ways for individuals to consume goods and services and for entrepreneurs and enterprises to dream up viable business models. The dizzying pace of change has affected our original eight trends, which have continued to spread (though often at a more rapid pace than we anticipated), morph in unexpected ways, and grow in number to an even ten.
The rapidly shifting technology environment raises serious questions for executives about how to help their companies capitalize on the transformation under way. Exploiting these trends typically doesn’t fall to any one executive—and as change accelerates, the odds of missing a beat rise significantly. For senior executives, therefore, merely understanding the ten trends outlined here isn’t enough. They also need to think strategically about how to adapt management and organizational structures to meet these new demands.