20 Global Trends that can Have an Impact on Your Business

Whether you run a small, midsize or large company, some of the trends will have an impact on how you do business. The question is – how ready is your business?

“We are actually within the next 5 years that I would call the great transformation,” says Daniel Burrus, a futurist, in an interview with Dr. Maira Gunn of IT Conversations.

This is not something that you should be afraid of. Instead it should challenge you! It’s about how you manage risks, especially risks that you have no control of. And see how these challenges can actually help redefine your business via innovation.

So here we go.

1. Population growth

The world’s population is pushing 7 billion (6.914 billion) by end of 2011. Asia accounts for more than 60% of the world’s population with more than 4 billion people. China and India make up about 37% of the world’s population. The U.S. is third most populous countries in the world with 308,745,538 people, according to Census 2010.

2. Technology

Four things that can impact your business: internet, mobile technologies, smart phones, and social appsonomics.

3. The world is increasingly urban

The world’s is 50.5% urban. In the U.S. 22 of the 30 fastest growing metropolitan areas are located in the fifteen most populous states, according to City Mayors. Twenty-four out of 27 megacities in the world (cities with more than 10M people) by end of 2011, are cities located outside the U.S.

4. Water scarcity

Closest to home. One-third of all counties in the lower 48 – will face higher risks of water shortages, according to NRDC study. A new report by U.S. government finds that major rivers such as Rio Grande and Colorado could see reductions in flow up to 20 percent. Water is among top 5 environmental issues that are important to business.

5. The use of social media in the world

Facebook has a global audience more than 500 million users, which is bigger than some “real” countries in the world. In 2010, Twitter added 100 million new users. According to Pew, 73% of adult profile users use Facebook, 48% have profile on MySpace and 14% use LinkedIn.

6. Supply chain

The supply chain is so interconnected globally, if something happened in one place it can affect productions in other places. Take for example in the case of Japan’s impact for the world’s major industries after tsunami and earthquake. Toyota have to adjust their May production in North America, because of parts availability after the natural disaster.

7. Climate legislations

A recent study by the Graham Institute of Climate Change found a growing commitment for climate legislations in 16 major countries.

8. Reverse innovation

Reverse innovation is innovation adopted from emerging markets, first. Companies are developing products in third world countries before they bring them to the U.S. Emerging markets been the catalyst of growth that you see in the telecom industries. The concept of prepaid was unheard of before. Now Virgin, Boost, Cricket, AT&T are in the business of offering – prepaid phone services.

9. Demographics change

In the world, the average age: 28. Han Chinese ethic group represents about 19% of the global population. In the U.S., Hispanics is the fastest growing population. The recent 2010 Census counted 50.5 million Hispanics making up 16.3% of the population, which is up from 35.3 million in 2000. This segment of the population grew over 43% in the decade.

10. The rise of value-concious shoppers

This is the silver lining of global recession. 91% of respondents from 53 countries surveyed by Nielsen (registration req.), said that they’d continue to buy private label products. More than half of Americans (55%) said that purchased more private label brands during recession and 94% said that they’d continue buy private labels even after economic improves.

11. The business of helping the poor

In economic term, this is often referred to as base-of-the-pyramid. They are the largest and the poorest in world’s socio-economic group. In scale, 4 billion people in the world living on $1 per day! C.K. Prahalad says, that “corporate sustainability and inclusive growth of poor people in the global market will become inextricably linked.” Already there’s movement in saving the poor and making profit at the same time.

12. People power

Egypt. The rise of social consumers, social commerce. It’s more likely that people would listen to their friends’ opinion than brands.

14. Government regulations

15. Rising energy prices

16. Biodiversity, the pricing of nature

Biodiversity matters more to business execs than climate change, according to a survey by McKinsey. 59% of respondents viewed biodiversity as more of an opportunity than a risk for their companies. The United Nations is pushing to put price on nature.

17. Crowdsourcing

Wisdom of the crowd. You can crowdsource just about anything. Netflix $1M prize for creating better algorithm for recommending films. Kiva, is crowdsourcing microloans. Procter and Gamble, Nike, Starbucks, Dell, Best Buy, Threadless – these cos. have created digital platforms for their customers to help them with creating new products, etc.

18. Demand for organic food, products

 According to Global Organic Market Access, the global organic food and drink sales is projected to reach $60 billion. The North American market for organic food and drink continues to show healthy grow. It has overtaken European market this year to become the largest.

19. Social, open-source learning 

Khan Academy. Open Course Ware. Open Learning Initiatives.

20. Sharing

Sharing knowledge, you see this already happening via social networking, social publishing sites. Sharing things, yes. There’s a peer-to-peer car sharing solutions. ZipCar. Bikesharing.

There’s a lot more trends that we can think of.

What else do you see happening around you that can have profound impact on how you do business?


Huge Procurement Dollar for Small & Minority Biz (in Maryland): Interview with Jerry Godwin

The other week I had the opportunity to have Jerry Godwin, Business Development Specialist with Wheaton (Maryland) Business Innovation Center as guest on my program – Ecotwist. In this interview, we talked about a whole range of issues from the innovation hub that the county offers to State’s procurement dollar for small and minority businesses. (Podcast of interview is below).

Innovation Hub

There are 5 business innovation network within the county based on location and industry: Shady Grove (biotech), Silver Spring (IT and software development), Wheaton (professional services), Rockville (international and tech companies), Germantown (biotech and life cycle companies).

There are two reasons why you’d be interested in participating in some sort of incubation: 1) Typically you pay below market rate for space provided. 2) The county provides broad technical assistance for CEOs and their staffs with close to 60 seminars a year. Some are 1 hour long, some are 2-3 hours long.

Currently there are over 180 companies in the county’s incubators network. The objective is, within about 3 years with the kind of environment created, Jerry says “with the technical training and synergies,” they expect that these companies will outgrow its space.

More than 90 companies have outgrown their spaces and move into commercial space. About 94 of these companies still in business, considering the failure rate of business the first year is about north of 85%. So that’s a pretty darn good success ratio. About 100 of companies under their portfolio have graduated from the program. They created 2500 jobs. Use 500,000 sf of commercial space. And bring $500 million of capital infusion back into the county.

The county provides financial and tax incentives for small businesses from new jobs tax credit, enhance new jobs tax credit to enterprise zone tax credit.

Montgomery county procurement

Jerry also said that there’s a big push in procurement dollar for small and minority businesses, which is part of the county’s Local Small Business Reserve Program.

All County departments’ is required to contract a minimum of 20 percent of annual solicitations to small businesses. The solicitations are reserved for vendors registered with the Local Small Business Reserve Program. The dollar amount is around $35 million for FY 2010.

For a business to participate in the procurement, it’s a 2 step process:

  1. Register as vendor with Montgomery County at http://mcipcc.net
  2. Register with Local Small Business Reserve Program at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/lsbrp

You can also visit Montgomery County Economic Development, for more details.

There’s more that we covered in our interview. Check out the podcast of “Doing Business Locally: Interview with Jerry Godwin.”

Lessons from the Top: How Top Performing Companies get Into Sustainability

A recent Sustainability and Innovation survey of global corporate leaders conducted by Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review, found that sustainability is at the core of many ot the top performing businesses. BCG and MIT surveyed more than 3000 business executives and managers and organizations from around the world. The survey captures insights from individuals in organizations in every major industry.

Point of entry: waste reduction and resource efficiency

These are initiatitives that companies can start working on. Waste reduction and resource efficiency are identified as the low-hanging fruit. Respondents put the two as priorities that help them run lean and efficient operations. It is measureable and it saves money.

Via MIT Sloan Review Management.

For Clorox, it was an entry point into sustainability. “We had done the measurement on footprint and the groundwork on projects so that people could buy into the greenhouse gas reduction, solid waste reduction and water reduction goals,” says Beth Springer, executive vice president of international and personal care at Clorox. “They could see the path.”

For Johnson & Johnson, resource management is also an efficiency measure that contributes to profitability. According to its 2009 Sustainability Report, between 2005 and 2009, the company completed more than 60 energy-reduction projects, representing $187 million in capital investments, which it expects will collectively reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 129,000 metric tons annually and provide an internal rate of return of almost 19%. The projects have so far generated about 247,000 megawatt hours of cumulative energy savings a year.

During the same period, Johnson & Johnson made a 32% cut in both hazardous and nonhazardous waste. “It’s been better for the bottom line, especially in terms of energy costs,” says Al Iannuzzi, senior director of worldwide health and safety at Johnson & Johnson. “Waste is cost to the corporation … and, of course, the less waste you send out of your gates, the less expensive it is to make your product.

The top drivers

From there, the embracers expand their practice to embed sustainability into their core values, because they see the link between sustainability and profit. Among the top drivers that support sustainability-related investments are:

  • – Increase margins or market share.
  • – The opportunity for greater potential for innovation in their business models and processes.
  • – Access to new markets.


Click on image to see larger view.

Making it happen


The 7 habits of top performing businesses:

1. Move early – even if information is incomplete.

Be bold. Use your gut. This is a journey.

2. Balance broad, long-term vision with projects offering concrete, near-term “wins.”

It’s a balance between ambitious vision and areas of competitive advantage. The smart companies narrow their projects into those that they can produce early, show bottom-line results and practicality.

3. Drive sustainability top down and bottom up.

Sustainability must be driven not only from the top down, but also it must involve employees at all levels for ideas and insights from multiple sources.

4. Aggressively de-silo sustainability – integrating it throughout the company operations.

Top performers applied sustainability to all existing business processes.

5. Measure everything (and if ways of measuring don’t exist, start inventing them).

Establish baselines and develop method of assessments so that starting point can be identified and progress measured. Try to establish ways of quantifying the impact of sustainability on brand, innovation, and productivity.

6. Value intangible benefits seriously.

“Smart companies are realizing that conservation of natural resources they need is a fundamental part of risk management.” Coke and Pepsi realized that water is the key ingredient to their business. Water conservation is fundamental to their business, if they want to stay in business. Allow time to develop the ability to measure and understand fully – intangible advantages. Companies need to make investment decisions based on tangible benefits, intangibles and risk scenarios.

7. Try to be authentic and transparent – internally and externally.

Be realistic. Do not overstate motives or set unrealistic expectations. Communicate your challenges as well as your successes.

Dig deeper for Sustainability: The ‘Embracers’ Seize Advantage, here.

Chair Fabric Made of 80% Recycled Materials

Spotted this few weekends ago at a Safeway store. Cool chair made with fabric made of 80% recycled materials that include plastic bottles. That means, less plastic waste going to the landfill.

This is an example of what could be. You think Deer Park bottles made their way to make this product? Technically, they could. If they do, this eco-friendly chair can be their revenues generator and expansion to new markets (read: new customers). 

I checked Deer Park website. But couldn’t find any info about this particular product. In case you have some info about this product, drop me a line or let me know in the comment section. 



When is the Best Time To do Your Social Media, Email and Blogging?

Sometime last week Dan Zarella, the social media scientist with Hubspot, gave a webminar on the science of timing. He’s looking at the best practices of when is the best time to do your social, email and blogging by analyzing data from hundreds of thousands and millions of bits of data. (note: all the graph presented in his data are EST standard).

Best practices for Social Media, Email and Blogging

> The best time to gain retweets is in late afternoon and week.


The contrarian side, based on data of click-through rates of links among the highest users of Twitter, weekends are also considered as one the best time to get retweets. In fact, weekends are better than Mondays or Tuesdays.

Other findings:

– Links to Facebook pages that posted every other day, gain more likes.

– If you tweet to gain more followers & reputation, tweet a lot more. For example, Guy Kawasaki tweets on average 23 a day! And he has some 331k followers. However, if you tweet links to your ‘own’ content, you want to do it randomly. Give space if you want to tweet it again.

> Weekends are best for Facebook sharing

Since about 54% of companies blocked access to Facebook, articles published early in the morning tend to do better than those published later in the day. Take note of this, unlike Twitter – where frequencies don’t matter much – Facebook is more frequency sensitive.


Dig deeper into 5 Questions and Answers of Facebook marketing

> Send emails very early in the morning.. like 6AM.

Send them in the morning. Emails are getting more attention either early in the morning or on weekends. If you’re sending “good” emails, open rates higher on weekends because your email are getting more attention from your readers. And new subscribers are your best friends. This is when you can experiment with timing. The best time to talk with your new subscribers are few days after they signed up. Don’t be afraid of unsubcribes, because they actually can help you to have a clean list.


This data is very interesting: unsubscribes are actually highest if you only send once a month email. Good email, that is. That means, you can send more emails to your list.

The key here is sending good, relevant information.

> Blog published between 10-11AM tend to get the most views. 

More people read blogs in the morning and during the week. You also want to know your audience and understand them. If you have more men that read your blog, they tend to read blogs in the evening. So you can experiment by posting later in the day. On the contrary, to get comments, weekend is your best bet.


> To get the juice out of links, published your blog post early in the morning…like 7AM.

This is the time when most bloggers are looking for ideas on what to write. Blog posts that are published very early in the morning tend to get the more read and links.


Bottom line: experiment with your own social media, email, and blogging and measure it to get the most out of your marketing dollars.

Dig deeper here.