Book Review: The Global Trends Report 2013

24 Jan 2013’s The Global Trends Report 2013 is a veritable treasure trove of data and insights into where the world is heading in 2013 and beyond. Are you ready?

The Global Trends Report 2013

The appeal of The Global Trends Report 2013 is that readers are not drowned by a deluge of data disconnected from context and implication – rather, the business leaders the report targets are provided with ways to make meaningful sense of the statistics and projected trends for the year ahead (and further into the future) and to take the appropriate actions to deal with them.

The report makes for somewhat frightening, albeit highly interesting, reading. We all know about the perils of overpopulation and resource abuse but by the end of the report we know about it comprehensively. We know the projected statistics for mid-century and the turn of the century – for example, there are likely to be 10 billion people on Earth by 2100 – and we discover that if we are currently utilizing 50% more resources than the planet can generate, then by 2030 we will be using renewable resources and land at an annual rate of 2 times what the planet can supply, and by 2050 at a rate of over 2.8 planets each year.

But writers Thomas W Malnight and Tracy S Keys don’t just leave readers hanging with these sorts of dire prognoses. Rather, they provide examples of businesses and leaders “not only focusing on their own direct impact on resources, the environment and societies, but also on that of their customers and whole supply chain from cradle to cradle” and outline their specific approaches.

Indeed, a move from profits to purpose figures heavily in the report. Trust in government is at an all time low and a surplus of crises – financial, political and environmental – means that people are looking more and more to businesses to make a change. With consumers and communities globally now having more of a say as a result of increasingly distributed power, geopolitical shifts, rapidly emerging economies, access to knowledge and a move toward transparency, and profligate choice, it is imperative that businesses look beyond the bottom line; as the report states, “corporate purpose and values – beyond “words on a wall” – are increasingly central to attracting and motivating employees, customers, and partners.” As discussed in another article in this issue, A Fine Balance, Gen Y-ers seeks employers with a social conscience.

Throughout, the report addresses the implications of particular trends, whether related to social networking, cyber crime, the confluence of generations in the workplace, smart phones and mobile access or increasingly porous industry boundaries, both on people and on business and outlines the approaches businesses can take both to contend with dire trends and move with the times where evolving trends like social networking are concerned.

With real world business examples throughout, provoking questions for business leaders, and insights relevant to any and every citizen, The Global Trends Report 2013 is a fantastic read.

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