At the crossroads of new business development

Image: Thinkstock

Image: Thinkstock

This year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, there was much concern over the growing inequality of incomes. The gap between rich and the poor gets ever bigger. The continuing economic crisis is not making things better. It used to be that economic investments help to create more jobs and take people out of poverty. However, currently major companies keep their billions of savings on the bank. They are uncertain not only about the economy, but also about the future of their business. With so many new technologies and new business models emerging, all could make the old economy obsolete in an instance. That means business developers need to be forward looking, now more than ever.

Innovations transforming businesses

The classic example of a company that did not anticipate new technology is Kodak films, which saw its business proposition go outdated, when digital photography hit the scene. Nowadays, children ask: “mom, how did you make photos in the past, when mobile phones did not exist?” Other businesses could face the same. Video stores have vanished from the shopping streets. Book stores are barely surviving. We are happy to shop online, stream, download, and use our tablets and smart phones for these and other services.

Down the road of the digital revolution

It is not only the way we consume that changes, also production and services change. Robotization and digitalization have started to take out routine, repetitive tasks and basic services. You don’t need a travel agent with a brick office at your shopping street, if you can simply book online. With big data at hand, even more complex jobs can be done by computers much better than by humans. Jobs such as camera surveillance reveal that computers can detect errors much better than our human brains can do. Sensors enable automated diagnosis of defects on your car, insulation leaks at your house, and many other things that used to be in the domain of the expert. Google’s latest purchase of Nest lab, maker of sophisticated thermostats and smoke detectors, can be seen as an indicator of the promise that digitalized services and the internet of things hold for our future.

The fast life of technologies

On this path of our digital future, we see companies rise and fall. Nokia, once the king of mobile phones, the dumb ones, completely missed the wave of smart phones. All the big electronics giants are nervous to be one day in that position or that their innovations don’t hit the public. Michael Bay’s stumbling performance at the Las Vegas consumer electronics show, when he couldn’t explain the advantages of the new curved Samsung screen for the film industry, painfully reveals this fear of innovations not being picked up by the audience.

The impact of the crowd

Technologies change behaviour, like how people shop, what products they buy and how they use them. Technologies change the way businesses are run. It affects decisions of what can be automated,  both routine work and the more ‘brainier’ jobs. Technologies change the business models, the way services are offered. And we have not even started to discuss the impact of the crowd, which is a new reality in the digital revolution. Marketing for instance, has changed from buying expensive advertisements to plugging your business and connecting with a network. The sharing economy continuously shows us how people use technologies to be self organizing, by sharing their houses, cars, food, tools and many other services. Ready to use Apps make it easy for everyone, including your parents, to be part of that world.

The future of new business development

With the digital revolution now in full swing, we start to see a whole new ball game for business development. The upcoming impact of robotization, revolution of sensors, big data, internet of things, together with the power of mobile devices and connected networks will reveal new horizon of possibilities of products and services. These kinds of developments should be the focus of new business development. No doubt that there are tonnes of new products and services being invented right now, as the possibilities are endless.

About Freija Van Duijne

Twitter: @FreijavanDuijne Futuring is my passion. I am fascinated about what the future might bring. Always looking around for leads about the future and open for new insights. I am futurist, trendwatchter and strategist at the The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, a thinktank in the Netherlands. My background is in Human factors psychology. I did my Masters at Leiden University and I did a PhD in Delft University at the faculty of Industrial design engineering. I have been involved in foresight studies since 2006. I am frequently asked as an expert for future studies in area of food, natural resources, health and governance. I am also a speaker and workshop facilitator on futures studies, trend presentations and the many topics that I blog about. My contributions to Futuristablog represent my own personal opinion and is never a statement of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
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