Predicting the future is a fool’s errand. Preparing for it, however, is everyone’s business. While there is much to learn from the next hundred postmortems on the real estate boom and credit behaving badly, there are green shoots among the financial burn — signs of what may be coming next. The world after the current economic contraction promises to be a different and exciting place.
Before we overindulge in cheer, though, our chief economist brings us The Great Transformation, a look at trends that could not continue and how these corrections could change the global business playing field. In a companion piece — What Next? Business in 2010 and Beyond — we consider scenarios for the recovery and review them from the perspective of strategic flexibility. No one knows what tomorrow will look like, but the likely possibilities can inform our decisions.
“Different and exciting” describes the widening embrace of open platforms, once the province of the technology fringe, now a strategic priority for established companies turning a perceived threat into an opportunity. In Platforms and the Open Door, we consider how companies can capture value where open innovation predominates. As an encore, Scott Wilson of Deloitte Research recently interviewed Professor Eric von Hippel of MIT — a leading proponent of open methods of innovation. We feature his interview in this issue.
When it comes to possibilities, solar energy may be poised — well, I could say for a brighter future, or that the sector is heating up. Fortunately the possibilities are better than the ready metaphors. Solar’s Push to Reach the Mainstream describes recent trends and shares implications in this sector.
Many of our coming decisions, however, will be on familiar ground. In China: Still Manufacturing’s Shining Star? we revisit the strategic opportunities in a country that has seen remarkable change over the last decade. Likewise, companies have always sought to retain their most talented people but, with rampant unemployment, can we back off the accelerator? In Where Did Our Employees Go?, we consider common and bad assumptions leaders make when the (blue) chips are down. And we have a look at customer profitability, a topic that is even more crucial during economic adversity than in happier times.
Finally, with IFRS looming for U.S. companies, compliance ultimately is not an option. But the road to implementation presents several, and the true payoff may be as much in the route as in the destination.