Are you ready to change the world in 2014?
Peter Fisk, in a preview of his forthcoming book “Gamechangers” looks at the world
ahead in 2014, the trends and themes that will shape markets, the new opportunities for
business to drive more disruptive innovation and profitable growth.
We live in the most incredible time.
These are days of exponential change. We are now in the middle of a decade when the
global population is growing faster than it ever has or will, when technology fuels
unimaginable possibilities from 3D printed organs to driverless cars. We see power
shifting from west to east, north to south, business to customer, and few to many. We see
youthful passion outwit venerable experience, and small companies topple the big ones.
The question is, are you riding these waves of change … or hanging onto the past?
Between 2010 and 2020, the world’s population will grow from 6.9 to 7.7 billion people,
mostly in megacities of the fast-developing world. Most significant for marketers will be
the rise of a huge “new middle” consumer class, neither rich nor poor, driving global
GDP from $53 to $90 trillion. But this growth is not a linear extrapolation of the old world.
It is a fantastic “kaleidoscope” of changing markets, new customers and priorities, new
capabilities and aspirations. A tectonic mash up.
The turmoil of financial markets, collapsing banks and defaulting nations, was the dying
pains of an old world order. Amidst the shake-up there are new winners and losers. In
2014 China’s real GDP growth will be 7.1% compared to 0.9% in Europe. However some
markets, including Ghana and Nigeria, Brazil and Colombia, Indonesia and Vietnam will
grow even faster. As Samsung launches its smart watch and Beijing is recognised as the
world’s leading city for renewable energies, we realise that the best ideas in business
are shifting rapidly. The big investors are in Schenzen, the most sustainable innovators in
Nairobi, the best fashion designers are in Buenos Aires, the best digital engineers in
Hyderabad. No longer are these emerging (wrong word, I know!) markets the source of
low-cost supplies, and low-budget consumers. They have youth, education, disposable
income, fast growth and ambition on their side too.
More than half the world live inside a circle based 106.6° E, 26.6° N, and within 4100km
of Guiyang, Guizhou Province, in southwest China. 55% of all products are now made in
more than one country, and around 20% of services too. 24% of the world’s adults have a
smartphone, typically checking it 150 times per day, spending 141 minutes on it. 70% of
people think small companies understand them better than large, 55% trust businesses
to do the right thing, but only 15% trust business leaders to tell the truth. The majority of
the world’s business value is now privately owned. Over 40% of companies in the
Fortune 500 in 2000 were not there in 2010, and by 2020 over 50% will be from emerging
markets. And on.
It is a period of awesomeness, of opportunities limited only by our imagination. A world
where impossible dreams can now come true.
When considering the challenges for business in 2014 - it would be easy to state the
obvious. Everyone talks about the power of big data, the next evolution of social media,
collaborative consumption and how “millennials” are different. This is all true, and part
of the kaleidoscope. But the biggest changes are the shake-up of markets - banking to
healthcare, entertainment and travel – and who is doing it.
From Alibaba to ZaoZao, Ashmei to Zidisha, Azuri and Zipars, a new generation of
businesses are rising out of the maelstrom of economic and technological change across
our world. These are just a few of the companies who are shaking up our world. Over the
last 12 months I have completed a huge research project to find the 100 brands who are
changing our world, and how they do it.
“Gamechangers” are the next generation of business, disruptive and innovative, startups and corporates, in every sector and region, reshaping our world. This is the title of
my new book to be published in early 2014, and you can already explore the list of
brands at Gamechangers.pro
This new breed of business are more ambitious, with stretching vision and enlightened
purpose. They see markets as kaleidoscopes of infinite possibilities, assembling and
defining them to their advantage. Most of all they have great ideas. They outthink their
competition, thinking bigger and different. They don’t believe in being slightly cheaper
or slightly better. That is a short-term game of diminishing returns.
Gamechangers capture their big ideas in more inspiring brands that resonate with their
target audiences at the right time and place, enabled by data and technology, but most
of all by rich human experiences. Social networks drive reach and richness, whilst new
business models make the possible profitable. They collaborate with customers, and
partner with other business, fusing ideas and utilising their capabilities. They look
beyond the sale to enable customers to achieve more, they care about their impact on
people and the world. Ultimately they want to create a better world.
So rather than list a set of trends for the year ahead, I’d encourage you to explore what
these incredible companies are doing. How are they changing their markets, finding
their own space, and playing a different game? And what could you learn from them, to
seize your opportunity in the midst of this “decade of awesomeness” too?
The DNA profiling business founded by Anne
Wojcicki in San Jose went mainstream in 2013,
reducing its prices from $999 to $99 and
launching TV advertising.
Simple “spit tests by mail” enable 23andMe to
analyse your genetic profile, identifying
everything from ancestry to future health
conditions. Initial ads featured Mohammed Ali,
and his fight against Parkinson’s, more recent
versions have focused on the US obsession of
Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy gave the business huge publicity, whilst the business model
behind the price cuts is all about building a huge DNA database that can change the way
pharma companies develop drugs, and insurance companies evaluate life risks. For
business the interesting lesson is how to engage consumers in new technologies, as well
as rethinking business models and their potential through partners.
In 2014 … business needs to work harder at applying the potential of new technologies
in more human ways, building brands that ultimately make life better.
Whilst media attention has been on Google
Glass, the augmented reality headsets, the
real story is about how the search business is
transforming many industries at its secret
“Google X” labs.
“Moonshot thinking” as chief scientist Astro
Teller calls it, is about making impossible
dreams happen. X’s largest project is actually
for driverless cars, the innovation that Sergey
Brin says is most exciting of all. This is a great
example of companies “thinking bigger”,
searching for more significant and disruptive ideas that create new markets rather than
just evolving existing products, and tweaking price and positioning within existing
For business the lesson is about stretching imagination, becoming the futurists of their
business, which ultimately will change perceptions of a business for investors, whilst
inspiring customers and employees alike.
In 2014 … business leaders need to think bigger about their next opportunities. As
Google says “why seek to improve by 10% when you could do things 10 x better”. Far
Li and Fung
The 107 year old Hong Kong-based company
entered its 40th country this year, creating
“sourcing hubs” around the world supported
by its 300 offices.
For the first century, the business was a low
cost manufacturer of clothing, but then rising
standards of living made a low cost base
impossible. So Li and Fung become a
“network sourcing” business that connects
companies (entrepreneurs and corporations)
with everything they need to make their
creative ideas happen. Li and Fung will find
you the best investor, designer, manufacturer, distributor, merchandiser, accountant –
whatever you need to be successful. 40% of the world’s clothing is now enabled by Li
and Fung’s networks.
For business this is a great example of the big global trend towards “ideas and
networks” companies being the most successful – working in new types of partnerships
that are creative, global and agile.
In 2014 … “ideas and networks” businesses will give marketers the infrastructure to
extend their brands into new geographies and categories at less risk and more speed.
Limited only by your imagination.
The world’s leading artificial organ business
this year created a 3D-printed heart.
Whilst the synthetic production of muscle
tissues is becoming well established, moving
to core organs which would otherwise require
transplants has a fundamental impact on
ethics and healthcare. 3D printing still seems
like a gimmick, a step up from Play-doh, but it
is revolutionising many industries. Another
example this year is the Urbee 3D-printed
car, which can be manufactured on location, saving huge amounts of time and expense in
logistics and stock.
For business leaders this is about thinking different, applying new tech to different
aspects of your business, to reduce costs and time, and thereby enable better solutions,
and more local propositions.
In 2014 … business will embrace 3d printing as a platform for offering hyperpersonalised, fast and local products in every category.
The Pebble smartwatch was launched this
year, with more fanfare, and more demand,
than the Samsung Gear which arrived a few
months later. Pebble started as a Kickstarter
project with a goal to crowd-fund $100k …
but exceeded that target, raising over $10
Co-funders are now receiving their watches,
which can also be bought through retailers
for $149. The watch connects with both iOS
and Android phones, notifying its wearer of
calls, texts, emails, calendar events and social media activity. Whilst it has been praised
for its stylish design, easy connections, and long battery life, users have been frustrated
by the limited apps so far available. In many ways it is part of a new alert-device
category, alongside the likes of FitBit, Jawbone and Nike Fuel.
The big lesson for business lies in the potential of crowds in pre-launching new products,
whilst also in defining new categories which sit in the gap, or on the bridge, between
In 2014 … business will move to the next level in customer collaboration, co-funding, codesigning, co-building, co-marketing, co-supporting, co-rewarding
Whilst 2013 has been a year of questions for
some Apple fans, whether Tim Cook can
sustain the incredible growth of the Cupertino
circus, and uncertainty over the refreshed
iOS7 design from Jony Ive, in other ways
Apple has made more impact than ever.
Most significantly, the iPad has become the
platform for a multitude of adapted business
activities, enabling everyone from airline
crew to hospital doctors to change the way
the work, faster and cheaper, smarter and more human. The iPad Mini for example has
been a revelation to doctors who can now slip it into their white coats and have all the
information they ever need about patients, conditions and medication, instantly at the
For business, an example of the benefit in working through the niche applications of
products to transform different customer experiences.
In 2014 … business leaders will need to recapture their thirst for disruptive innovations,
realising that derivative price-point thinking is a danger to their brands, like it is to
Apple. Think bigger and bolder.
Cambridge-based designer of
microprocessor has long been the arch rival
ARM’s business model is about designing the
patterns and then outsourcing the
manufacturing, rather than actually making
the chips like Intel. This means ARM can
work more globally and flexibly with many
more partners, faster to respond to new
trends. ARM’s low-energy products are more
suited to small devices like smartphones and
tablets, whereas Intel has focused on larger
computers. The small and smarter trend in smartphones, watches, tablets, favours ARM,
and this year saw the British company exceed the sales of its big rival for the first time.
In 2014 … business will need to become more IP savvy, understanding what it really is
that they do uniquely, and how they can monetise this in more effective ways.
Partnerships become ever more important in connecting the right ideas with global
AG Lafley returned as CEO, the consumer
goods giant having lost its way trying to
embrace the digital world with soap and
Lafley’s first action was a letter to all staff
reminding them of what matters most – the
consumer. The simplicity of his obsession
saw a tripling of P&G’s market value in his
previous decade as CEO, and whilst it
doesn’t mean the consumer is always right, it
does mean that taking a consumer rather
than product perspective is the foundation of
more relevant marketing, and successful innovation. His letter to employees (read it on
my blog!) is a fabulous reminder of what matters most to marketers, inside P&G and
everywhere else too.
In 2014 … business people everywhere should remember that despite the dazzling
technologies and accelerating innovations, customers (or consumers) are still “the
CEO Mark Parker is a marketer, and an
example of the trend towards more
business leaders coming from a
background that is creative and consumer
Whilst Nike celebrated 25 years of its “Just
do it” slogan this year, Parker reiterated his
belief that the business is not about shoes
and clothing, but about what it enables its
consumers to do. Just like Phil Knight said
from Nike’s founding, on every tag inside
the shoe, Nike is dedicated to delivering
your best performance, be that running a faster marathon, a more enjoyable gym
workout, monitoring your fitness level with Nike Fuel, or sharing experiences with Nike+
devices and software. For business, it is about brands defining the consumer’s
aspirations, extending for beyond a product-centred core.
In 2014 … every business needs to add value beyond their core – additional products
and services that enable customers to achieve more. They will also become ever more
influential in business, driving creative and customer thinking, but also becoming the
most likely CEOs.
Last year it was about space jumps, with
the Stratos Project, this year Red Bull
Media House moved to the heart of the
business, with CEO Dietmar Mateshitz
pronouncing that Red Bull is firstly “a
media brand that currently makes drinks”.
A little like Nike, this reflects brands
refocusing around consumers, their
aspirations and experiences, rather than
being a label of a company or product. It
also reflects a growing trend for marketers
to take their core creative process in-house. In an ideas world, no longer can they afford
to outsource their creativity to agencies who need to work harder and together, in
connecting with consumers. Whilst a collaborative process, Red Bull recognised that
ideas are their core asset which they need to nurture and grow.
In 2014 … business leaders cannot outsource their creativity, to agencies or consultants,
they need to be bigger and better thinkers themselves. They need to encourage, seek
and connect creative thinking in everyone, and more holistic innovation and execution.
The death of a technology giant, perhaps
not surprising to those of us smartphone
users who let go of our Nokia’s some years
But what was interesting is that this is the
company who had transformed itself so
many times before – from being Finland’s
largest forestry company, to being the
leading shipbuilder, it grasped the
opportunity of mobile tech. But then it let
in a generation of people who were blinkered by scale and success, and lost the ability
to keep changing.
In 2014 … business needs to be ever more agile, questioning everything from what
market they are really in, to who their competition actually is. The answers may be
unconventional, but also stimulating.