Social, Visual, Mobile, Virtual: Ready or Not, These Four Mega Trends Will Affect Your Business

Social, Visual, Mobile, and Virtual: I refer to these as Mega Trends because they are (1) happening on a grand scale, (2) affecting business owners and executives whether they choose to do anything about them or not, and (3) they are changing the world as we know it. Moreover, while these Mega Trends are enabled by technology, they are more representative of the grander transformation that is happening as a result.

Each of these Mega Trends is significant on their own, but they are also intertwined. And while the tremendous technology underpinnings require your IT folks to practice due diligence, these trends are fundamentally all about PEOPLE…the customers we serve, the employees who enable our organizations, and the partners we work with.

Ready or not, these Mega Trends are here; as a small business owner, what are you doing in the face of them? This article series will focus on the four Mega Trends in more detail, and discuss the options available to small business owners and professionals building a career alongside them.

Let’s begin with the Social Mega Trend.

This is about more than just Facebook, even if there are more Facebook users than there are people in North and South America combined. This is about the ways in which we interact and share. More and more people leverage easily accessible tools as modalities for social collaboration. We can share ideas and knowledge, create things collaboratively, even experience things together no matter where we are physically in relation to one another. And while this is becoming more multi-generational, the younger generation in particular is predisposed for this kind of social interaction. In fact, they’ve never known what it’s like to NOT be connected. And this social ability is of high priority to them. Small business owners and employers today must take note: ten years ago, potential employees considered the geographic location of their job to be a priority. This has changed. Geographic boundaries mean little to those coming entering the workforce now (Generation Y and the Millenials). In fact, in a survey conducted by Cisco of young professionals and college students about to enter the workforce, 33% (or 1 out of 3) would accept a lower pay grade for social and device freedom at work. This is something we all need to be aware of as we look to bring in bright new talent.

This Mega Trend is about so much more than the technologies and tools available to connect us. It is fundamentally about the human race moving forward and driving progress. Every step in our progress as a species builds upon the knowledge and experiences of those who came before us. Consider one of Sir Isaac Newton’s famous quotes: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Even a brilliant person like Newton made sure to acknowledge the role of the great thinkers before him; the work of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo were foundational to Newton’s mathematical insights and accomplishments. In turn, Newton’s work influenced Einstein’s. Sharing knowledge and experience can have an incredible impact.

You know that old saying “Necessity is the mother of invention”? Well I believe that Sharing is the Grandfather of Progress.” I heard it said recently that before the 1900s, human knowledge doubled every 100 years or so. Now human knowledge doubles every 2-3 years. This Mega Trend is enabling us to share and gain access to the previous experiences and knowledge of anyone in the world, rapidly accelerating our growth.

So what does this mean for us? Why should we care? It comes down to the most basic element of business…people. People are our customers. People are our employees. People are our partners. It’s about how much more open we are to sharing as a result of how easy it now is to do so. Consider how 750,000 people share 11,000 cars using Zipcar. Or how any business can share in a global virtual workforce leveraging online services like Gigwalk.com. As more and more people on the planet transform the ways in which they interact and share, we will find our businesses in need of transformation to maintain relevance. In fact, if we want to have access to the emerging pool of talented future leaders, we have no choice but to reckon with the fact that this is the way in which they operate. If we don’t, our competitors will. I predict that most if not all organizations will be leveraging a social platform (be it public or private) of some kind for business (and not just a Facebook page from marketing) within the next five years.

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