Philosopher Marshall McLuhan said: “We march backwards into the future”, in that the past informs our vision of tomorrow. Governments, companies and individuals all play an active part in shaping the direction of society.

Key Drivers of Change
Key trends are linked to socioeconomic and cultural drivers. This Diagram illustrates how the trends impacting SMEs are all interconnected. These are the ‘ones to watch’ – they assist us in making better decisions in the present about tomorrow.

New Models
The 4 key clusters that will drive innovation in the future are: Smart, Networks, Social and Wellbeing. ‘Real value’ will be measured by how well organisations navigate the new ‘4P’ bottom line: People, Planet, Purpose and then Profit.

Tomorrow’s Inclusive Society
Brilliant business models are never anonymous – they reach out to communities and enable people to connect across borders. Winners of the future will be SMEs that adopt the ‘4Ps’ and deliver sustainable, social, emotional and economic value.

Radical Openness
In the digital Reputation Economy, all organisations have to work harder not only to be noticed, but also to be trusted. A survey of 97,000 people in 30 countries showed that 48% would not recommend their own organisation. In this context, Dan Tapscott and Anthony Williams’ book Radical Openness studied how smart organisations embrace the values of openness and collaboration. Reputation is our most valuable currency – globally, 65% of people believe Total Transparency and honest business practices are essential to corporate reputation.

‘Big-Data’ Networks
It’s predicted that 50 billion devices could be connected to the Internet of Things by 2020 and ‘Big Data’ intelligence – gathered by people, organisations, governments and things – brings huge opportunities in all areas of society. However, as connectivity, data consumption and production grow at an exponential rate, understanding how to manage, secure, as well as create Meaningful Analytics becomes a major challenge. All this means SMEs must move from device and channel-centred to a user-centred approach – adapting messages to Multi-Channel Platforms.

Cloud Collaboration changes our lifestyle patterns and inspires Disruptive Innovation, where agility and scalability rule. The App Economy already fuels ‘lightweight’ startups serving highly mobile users. By 2016, 3 billion people will be online globally and the G-20 Internet economy could reach $4.2 trillion – contributing up to 8% of GDP to some economies, powering growth, and creating jobs. The 20th-century focused on owning, but the 21st-century is all about access to networks. New societal paradigms are needed to capture social value created – not just value captured.

Global Citizens
The needs and wants of the Global Citizen set new standards in virtually all areas of society and business. In a world without boundaries, Talent Mobilityis key and Millennials form half the workforce by 2020. Network Clusters thrive in multi-cultural settings such as Silicon Valley, where nearly 2/3 of workers were born outside the US. For SMEs, Europe’s largest start-up ecosystem is currently London. By 2020, 35% of European jobs require a higher education qualification – currently just 26% of Europe’s workforce holds a degree compared with 50% in Canada.

Entrepreneurship is key to personal autonomy, as well as the welfare state, jobs, innovation and competitiveness. An Autonomy Economy means many graduates with specialist knowledge are looking to start businesses. By 2020, 2 in 3 graduates in advanced economies will be women – yet currently only 30% of European entrepreneurs are female. Betapreneurs operate within Creative Communities in a process of trial and error, working solo, in small teams or for innovation-focused organisations such as Microsoft, Apple and Google – who employ ‘Intrapreneurs’ to stay ahead.

Social Capital
People want community and almost 2/3 say they prefer to work for an organisation making a positive difference. Authentic Storytelling drive ‘real’ brand experiences and enable communities to flourish, fostering a strong culture of innovation. Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions that underpin a society – it is the glue that holds them together. Glocalisation – thinking global acting local – informs our connected world and brilliant business models are driven by ‘Conscious Capitalism’ – leveraging networks to support local trade and creating multi-level value and well-being for all stakeholders.

The Good Life
As we start to question the conventional way of measuring success, the re-definition of the Good Life goes public. The course ‘Positive Psychology as a catalyst for change’ at Harvard Business School is oversubscribed and already informing future business leaders. The case for New Models is clear: happy people are more focused and 40-50% more productive. The School of Life teaches mindfulness, helping people find their purpose and passion in life, and Harvard professor Michael Porter’s ‘Social Progress Imperative’ delivers a new value index to inform corporate and government thinking.


No-Age Society
A 4G (4-generation) workforce requires Inclusive Solutions and a positive mindset that views the ageing population as an opportunity not a threat. According to the UN, 2 billion people will be aged 60+ by 2050 – 22% of the world population. A flexible labour market allowing ‘fit seniors’ to continue working as well as Lifelong Learning creates more opportunities for everyone. Rapidly growing MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), such as Coursera (currently 3.5m users), enable this. Currently, the Nordic countries lead on Lifelong Learning, with 20-33% of citizens participating.

1) Urban Scribble by Petra Brekke
2) Man Floating in Water by Kjaer Global
3) Snapshot of The Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art by Kjaer Global courtesy of Parasol Unit >>
4) Weconomics Workshop by Kjaer Global
5) Global Citizens Migration by Kjaer Global
6) Grafitti Brick Lane London by Alfred Brekke
7) Do Good Work – source unknown
8) I know Something About Love editor Ziba Ardalan for Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, London and Koenig Books – by Kjaer Global courtesy of Parasol Unit >>
9) No-Age Society at Tate Modern by Kjaer Global

Download SME Poster >>

Presentation >>

Script >>

Talk: The EU Commission’s EUROSME conference, June 11-12, 2013, Dublin  >>


The Futurist

Anne Lise is a keynote speaker and works across the world out of London base

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