Monday, June 5, 2017

Forces and Trends

The two articles from McKinsey provided a great deal of food for thought this week.  Both were rather prescient for their time, and hold up rather well as none of the trends or forces identified have abated. 

In “The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends” article, the authors posit that “[i]n the new world, executives, policy makers, and individuals all need to scrutinize their intuitions from first principles and boldly reset them if necessary. This is especially true for organizations that have enjoyed great success”[i].  This is a very different sentiment than that espoused by IBM; that a “business built on beliefs can absorb change as long as the beliefs remain intact”[ii].  Given last week’s readings and discussion on the immutability of purpose and core values, the McKinsey assertion struck me as rather profound and led me to consider if, and when, core values should be modified.

The “Ten IT-enabled Business Trends For the Decade Ahead” article, though several years old now, explores a series of technological developments expected to have titanic impact on business operations.  The interesting intersection of this article with the “Four Global Forces” article is where many of the technologies mentioned (IoT, BigData, social) converge with security and privacy.  In recent years, various governments have sought to strengthen or enshrine privacy as a fundamental right, while activists and lobbyists have brought privacy issues and concerns to the fore.  Concurrently, data breaches and disclosures of sensitive information has become almost routine, resulting in further legislative and statutory action.  In light of this demonstrated desire for increased security and privacy, perhaps businesses with a foundation of IoT, BigData, or social would be wise to add privacy to their list of core values? 

Due to potential abuse of my personal data, real or imagined, I tend to stray away from social media and enable every security and privacy browser safeguard possible – I have little desire to hand over my personal data to the faceless monoliths that modern technology company’s have become.  I would love to use many of the technologies being developed, but there’s little trust that my data won’t be packaged up and sold.  If a company were to explicitly state that customer privacy is a core value, it could assuage any lingering customer fears over data breaches or information disclosures.  At present, none of the leading technology firms explicitly define customer privacy as a value[iii], though a charitable interpretation of Google’s famous exhortation “Don’t be evil” is serviceable.

[i] Dobbs, R., Manyika, J., & Woetzel, J. (2015). The four global forces breaking all the trends. Retrieved June 4, 2017, from
[ii] IBM. (2011). IBM100 - A Business and Its Beliefs. Retrieved June 5, 2017, from
[iii] MidAmerica Nazarene University. (2015). Nothing Less Than Excellence: How Organizational Leadership Informs the Core Values of Top Tech Firms. Retrieved June 5, 2017, from

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