This book is about how companies will have to cope with the disruptive impact of digital
technologies and the kind of leadership skills that will be needed to cope with this period of turbulence and volatility.
How today’s environment is different
Businesses have always been subjected to uncertainty. But the kind of uncertainty we are seeing today is of a different order. In scale, impact and ubiquity, the degree of uncertainty is much higher and of a structural nature. The forces at work today can dramatically transform industries and wipe out incumbent players if they are not on their guard. In short, taking control of uncertainty is the fundamental leadership challenge of our times.
Leaders have a choice.
They can continue to defend the existing way of doing things and risk getting marginalized. Or they can go on the offensive and seize the opportunity. With the world economy expected to grow by about $ 30 trillion (from the current $ 70 trillion) over the next decade or so, there are exciting opportunities for companies that can create new business models, new business segments and indeed new industries. (Most of the $ 30 trillion which will be created and quite a bit of the reconstituted $ 70 trillion economy which exists today will be driven by digital technologies.) Indeed companies must figure out how they need to position themselves to grab an unfair share of this opportunity.
Many forces are at work today. But the two that are contributing most to this structural
uncertainty are digitization and the rising consumer power. Digitization which includes sensors, cloud, algorithms (analytics) and mobility is lowering barriers to entry and allowing new players to enter the market. At the same time, consumer power has increased enormously thanks to social media, reviews and instant price comparisons. Consumer preferences can shift en masse suddenly, destroying whole industries.
Technology has been a great disruptor since the days of the industrial revolution. But what amplifies the uncertainty today and magnifies the disruption potential is the combination of the low cost of computation, high speed of processing and transferring data and the internet which has brought everyone together irrespective of where they are located. “The bends on the road have become wider, deeper and more frequent.” Leaders who have grown and thrived in the past need to develop a different set of capabilities to succeed in this new world.
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