Five factors that will shape your business in the future

GLOBALIZATION: The world has shrunk. It is truly a small world after all. The barriers of time, geography, language and culture are breaking down at a break-neck pace.

The new European Union and the fall of Communism are only two examples. But the Internet and other electronic and digital technologies will continue to break the barriers down even further. Corporations from all nations are looking for ways to reach other countries. Many companies that just a short time ago was very parochial are now considered multi-national in nature. The westernization of many cultures, especially parts of Europe, South America and the Far East are additional signs of the homogenizing of the global society. Travel is cheap, phones are cheap, and it is rare to meet someone that has not traveled to far away places and/or knows someone from a foreign country or was in fact born in a foreign country. The reason this globalization trend is so important to all companies is that what worked on a local level in the past will no longer work on a global level or across cultural barriers. The playing field has changed and broadened.

TECHNOLOGY: Technology is the driving force behind the homogenizing of society. The advent of the Internet and its subsequent proliferation has broken down barriers, including language, that a mere ten years ago were unheard of. Written word translation is already a reality and instant voice translation over phone lines is only a few years away, if not sooner. What does this rapid pace mean? People’s expectations have been raised; instant gratification is the norm. Technology will only continue to drive this fast pace of communication. Technology is also driving the marketing communication process to new heights. For instance, printed newspaper sales are down 25% globally since the advent of the Internet; a trend that no one in the media industry wanted to admit until it became too hard to ignore over the last six months.

ECONOMY: Although the global economy is still not putting a living wage in everyone’s pocket it certainly has brought a significant part of the world out of a poor mans status. Discretionary income has exploded, particularly among the under twenty crowd. Countries that were subjected to third and second world status a few years ago are viable and lucrative markets. One only needs to consider the Czech Republic and other eastern block countries that are now producing wealth and influence. The United States is in danger of becoming a country dependent on others rather then the relationship we have been accustomed to.

CULTURE: The society in the United States has shifted very rapidly. The U.S. population will be comprised of almost 50% Hispanic dissent within fifty years or so. Other nationalities such as Asia, Eastern Bloc countries, Africa and others are finding their way here. The make-up of the U.S. will never be the same. The challenge for everyone will be to adopt and evolve with the new demands and needs of these new groups. Many are of different faiths, many are more devotional then Americans, and many are of no faith at all and are here simply to make their dreams and raise a family and/or get away from a dismal further in their homeland. The big difference is that the original immigrants to this country “melted” into the society by adopting American customs, language and work ethics. The new groups are holding onto their heritage, language and customs creating a new marketing challenge to marketers.

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE: Companies need to adapt to the changing life styles of individuals. There are more two income homes and working mothers than ever before. The work force is highly trained and experienced but with so many domestic and global opportunities for excelling it is going to become harder to attract and retain the employees that have the best skill set and experience for the demands of the future. Companies will need to spend a lot of money to meet this demand. Training, compensation, employee development, and other motivational means will become a driving force in corporate America. Companies will need to adapt their organizational structure around the new set of challenges.