May 25, 2015
Biz Books

Four forces that will change business trends

"No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends" by Richard Dobbs, James Manyika and Jonathan Woetzel (PublicAffairs, $27.99).

Three McKinsey Global Institute researchers based in various corners of the globe see the future of business from 30,000 feet and ground level. Forget about following trend lines; brace yourself for trend breaks, and the "new normal of shifts, shocks and surprises." Here are the four forces that need to capture your attention:

1. Growth of urbanization in emerging markets — Just as farmers in the U.S. left farms for better-paying city jobs, those in emerging markets are going urban. Have you heard of Tianjin (China) or Porto Alegre (Brazil)? Their growth, along with 400 or so other small-to-medium cities you probably never heard of, will account for nearly half of the growth of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through 2025.

2. Accelerating technological change — Technology brings economic progress as businesses and individuals have access to devices that improve communication. Hand-in-hand with the growth of technological applications in business and personal space, goes "infobesity" (i.e. vast amounts of information available to businesses and consumers) and the cloud's information-sharing.

While economic progress has its upside, there will be casualties because the lifecycle of products and companies will shorten. Risk assessment will play an ever-growing role in strategic and tactical decision-making.

3. Responding to the world's aging population — There's a demographic "deficit." As the population of developed countries grays and fertility continues to drop, there will be fewer people entering the labor force. Smaller workforces, even with technological growth, may not be able to maintain previous GDP levels, or provide sufficient support for governmental programs for longer-living retirees.

4. Greater global connections — The 20th century was dominated by European and North American trading hubs. The 21st will see not only a shift to include China and India, but also Africa. New markets will open; many old markets will plateau or decline. To take advantage of new markets, businesses will need capital investment and an understanding of cultural norms.

The bottom line: The authors see the future's global dots and connect them. How will you make your connections?

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"You are What You Tweet — Harness the Power of Twitter to Create a Happier, Healthier Life" by Germany Kent (Starstone Press, $16.95).

When it comes to personal branding, your social media profiles convey your story. Of all the social media outlets, Twitter allows you to really build your brand because it extends the reach of your words through retweets and the addition of followers. Think of your tweets as personal PR.

Your brand message starts with your profile. Your picture, its background image and your tagline are important for two reasons: 1. Tweeters usually see your profile picture and tweets when they scroll down their Twitter timelines. They're more apt to pay attention to your message when they readily pick out your tweets.

2. Attracting followers. With the abundance of social media information available, potential followers are selective. Think of your profile as the dust jacket of your book. Your picture and background are the cover. Your tagline is its title; it should tell them what to expect from your tweets.

When it comes to tweeting, tweet often and stay on message. With a 140-character limit, you must think about what you want to say, and use texting shorthand. If you include links to articles or websites, say something about their content to pique interest.

Expand your reach to potential followers by including a link to your Twitter profile (along with LinkedIn) in your email signature.

Key takeaway: On Twitter, you can establish a brand that shares knowledge and builds bridges. Aspire to become a thought-provoker and opinion-leader.

Jim Pawlak is a nationally syndicated book reviewer.

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