The world economy’s operating system is being rewritten. In this exclusive excerpt from the new book No Ordinary Disruption, its authors explain the trends reshaping the world and why leaders must adjust to a new reality.
Together, these four fundamental disruptive trends are producing monumental change.
1. Beyond Shanghai: The age of urbanization
The first trend is the shifting of the locus of economic activity and dynamism to emerging markets like China and to cities within those markets. These emerging markets are going through simultaneous industrial and urban revolutions, shifting the center of the world economy east and south at a speed never before witnessed. As recently as 2000, 95 percent of the Fortune Global 500—the world’s largest international companies including Airbus, IBM, Nestlé, Shell, and The Coca-Cola Company, to name a few—were headquartered in developed economies. By 2025, when China will be home to more large companies than either the United States or Europe, we expect nearly half of the world’s large companies—defined as those with revenue of $1 billion or more—to be headquartered in emerging markets.
Perhaps equally important, the locus of economic activity is shifting within these markets. The global urban population has been rising by an average of 65 million people annually during the past three decades, the equivalent of adding seven Chicagos a year, every year. Nearly half of global GDP growth between 2010 and 2025 will come from 440 cities in emerging markets—95 percent of them small- and medium-size cities that many Western executives may not even have heard of and couldn’t point to on a map.
2. The tip of the iceberg: Accelerating technological change
The second disruptive force is the acceleration in the scope, scale, and economic impact of technology. Technology—from the printing press to the steam engine and the Internet—has always been a great force in overturning the status quo. The difference today is the sheer ubiquity of technology in our lives and the speed of change. It took more than 50 years after the telephone was invented until half of American homes had one. It took radio 38 years to attract 50 million listeners. But Facebook attracted 6 million users in its first year and that number multiplied 100 times over the next five years. China’s mobile text- and voice-messaging service WeChat has 300 million users, more than the entire adult population of the United States. Accelerated adoption invites accelerated innovation. In 2009, two years after the iPhone’s launch, developers had created around 150,000 applications. By 2014, that number had hit 1.2 million, and users had downloaded more than 75 billion total apps, more than ten for every person on the planet. As fast as innovation has multiplied and spread in recent years, it is poised to change and grow at an exponential speed beyond the power of human intuition to anticipate.
3. Getting old isn’t what it used to be: Responding to the challenges of an aging world
The human population is getting older. Fertility is falling, and the world’s population is graying dramatically. While aging has been evident in developed economies for some time—Japan and Russia have seen their populations decline over the past few years—the demographic deficit is now spreading to China and soon will reach Latin America. For the first time in human history, aging could mean that the planet’s population will plateau in most of the world. Thirty years ago, only a small share of the global population lived in the few countries with fertility rates substantially below those needed to replace each generation—2.1 children per woman. But by 2013, about 60 percent of the world’s population lived in countries with fertility rates below the replacement rate. This is a sea change.
4. Trade, people, finance, and data: Greater global connections
The final disruptive force is the degree to which the world is much more connected through trade and through movements in capital, people, and information (data and communication)—what we call “flows.” Trade and finance have long been part of the globalization story but, in recent decades, there’s been a significant shift. Instead of a series of lines connecting major trading hubs in Europe and North America, the global trading system has expanded into a complex, intricate, sprawling web. Asia is becoming the world’s largest trading region.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at The four global forces breaking all the trends | McKinsey & Company.
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