After reading the National Intelligence Council’s “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds” report, I was in awe with the sheer number of things policy makers and strategic thinkers of government organizations of a global power like USA have to consider when designing strategies. The report is invaluable to government agencies but I couldn’t stop thinking about what this report means to the private sector, especially dominant US based companies in Fortune 500 list.
Consider Walmart, it has already embarrassed the “Demographic Patterns” mega trend and has been investing considerably in emerging markets like India and China. Walmart also set itself very ambitious environmental goals in 2005 to sell products that sustain natural resources and environment and to be supplied entirely by renewable energy to catch the “Food, Water, Energy Nexus” mega trend. It has been reported in 2015, ten years after Walmart set the sustainability goals that it was indeed delivering on its goals. Walmart’s executives have termed the sustainability goals as good for business and shareholders and not just a PR exercise to brand itself. It is evident from Walmart’s case that large corporations have no option but to catch the mega trends in spite of challenges like adapting to newer cultures, geographies and business ways. Walmart has considerable profitability issues in China but it has not given up on a 1+ trillion dollar retail market like it did in the case of Germany or Japan, I think that Demographic Patterns mega trend had a role to play in Walmart’s decision to give up Germany and Japanese markets which were tough to crack but big declining demographic markets while still grinding its way through very tough and growing Indians and Chinese markets. Walmart might have decided to strategically expend its resources in going after lucrative Chinese and Indian markets as they are growing rapidly instead of continuing to battle the shrinking German and Japanese markets.
“future is not set in stone, but is malleable, the result of an interplay among megatrends, game-changers and, above all, human agency”, says the National Intelligence Council Report, I find it very relevant to strategy thinkers of large organizations. Large organizations which want to sustain themselves in the long term must pivot to vastly different countries, cultures and geographies by building strategies which can shape the markets by working with governments, trade organizations and by projecting soft power. They shall be doomed if they think short term and wait for the eleventh hour to catch the future trends.