Prior to Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella financing Columbus’ voyage to discover the New World, the Strait of Gibraltar was flanked by two pillars that bore the warning non plus ultra or, “Nothing further beyond,” serving as a warning to Mediterranean sailors and navigators to go no further. However, Ferdinand and Isabella’s grandson, Charles V, essentially reversed this line of thinking with his own motto, plus ultra, which translates to “Further beyond” or “limitless.” 

I believe the American economy will change more in the next 10 years than it has in the 500 years since Charles V colonized the Americas. Transformative technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, the internet of things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, digital traceability and blockchain will fundamentally change how we consume goods and services. These new market tools will create limitless opportunity, but they’ll also create new challenges.

A New Era Of Global Enterprise 

Speaking at the relaunch of the global startup incubator 1776 in Philadelphia in April, AOL founder Steve Case explained how these transformative technologies will usher in the third wave of the internet and fundamentally change society. The first wave brought everyone online, the second connected everyone thru apps that could run on top of the internet infrastructure and the third wave will be defined by the internet of everything. However, as Case noted in an interview with Business Horizons, before we can realize the opportunity of these new market tools, “We have to rethink learning, rethink cities. These fundamental aspects of everyday life, our society, and businesses that power our economy are really up for grabs in this third wave.”

Our economy has transformed itself multiple times through distinct eras of growth and development — each driven by the technology of their day. In the Merchant Era, we capitalized on the abundance of land and vast natural resources to fuel opportunity and expansion. The Corporate Era brought industrialization, national competition and widespread economic growth. With the Consumer Era, innovations in technology saw production boom as consumerism shaped the American marketplace. The Global Eraconnected us, and both consumers and producers alike adapted to rapid change driven by internet-linked computers, large amounts of data and smart devices.

The New Role Of Business And The Four Technologies Driving It

We progress through our technology. The hyper-connectedness facilitated by smartphones has empowered consumers to start making more informed purchasing decisions. In addition to price, quality and availability, informed consumers will make purchasing decisions based on drivers like sustainability, transparency and social impact.

Here are the four technologies redefining the role of business as a whole.

1. Artificial Intelligence

Market Opportunity: Artificial intelligence is the foundational technology that will connect us all and create a new relationship between man and machine. Once AI has been absorbed into our economy, its projected to yield the highest economic benefit to the United States, increasing annual growth rate from 2.6% to 4.6% by 2035, translating to an additional USD $8.3 trillion in gross value added.

Market consequence to prepare for: Up to 40% of the U.S. workforce could lose their jobs by 2030.

Full market implementation: 2-5 years

Early adopters: Google.

New market value: Empowered consumption/social impact

To put all of this into perspective: We could provide access to clean drinking water for the 2.1 billion who currently drink contaminated water on a daily basis for $28.4 billion.

2. Internet Of Things 

Market opportunity: As the internet of everything starts to come online over the next 10 years, we’ll begin to incorporate digital devices and sensors throughout our homes, appliances, clothing and products. U.S. e-commerce will grow from 10% market penetration to 40% market penetration, creating $938 billion in new market value over the coming decade.

Market consequence to prepare for: Excess retail space. The repurposing responsibility will fall mostly to community governments as many retailers will not make the transition to online sales.

Full market implementation: 2-5 years

Early adopters: Walmart

New market value: Experience

As we connect our homes, appliances and products to the internet of things, this will enable AI to automate the majority of our purchases. Auto-replenishment will simplify the consumption process by removing consumers from routine purchases. As we make fewer more informed purchases offline, brands must find new ways to provide a rich, personalized retail experience.

3. Autonomous Vehicles (A/V)

Market opportunity: The reduced operating costs in transporting people and goods that A/V will bring is almost unquantifiable. The research company Strategy Analytics reports that autonomous driving technology will enable a new passenger economy worth $7 trillion by 2050.

Market consequence to prepare for:  Hotel closings, usage-based insurance policies.

Full market implementation: 6-10 years

Early adopters: GM

New market value: Convenience

A/V will be a key enabler of auto-replenishment and its projected $52 billion market. The direct-order nature of auto-replenishment will enable us to automate social impact, as well as other initiatives, directly into our automatic purchases.

4. Robotics

Market opportunity: Robotics will enable higher utilization, greater flexibility, improved accuracy and faster transaction times. Robotics will drive cost savings through operational efficiencies, primarily in warehousing and distribution.

Market consequence to prepare for: Mass unemployment

Full market implementation: 2-5 years

Early Adopters: Amazon

New market value: Personalization

When Adam Smith made the case for free-market capitalism in 1776, it was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and land-based wealth creation no longer served the public good as the shift to labor-fueled manufacturing had begun. Once AI and Robotics are fully implemented, the wealth creation model will once again shift.

Plus Ultra Possibilities

The new role of business as a facilitator of community progress isn’t new at all. Society has always been shaped by the role of business, and the role of business has always been shaped by our technology. Free-market capitalism works so well because it rewards efficiencies and is built on incentive. As the role of business evolves to address social impact, new market technologies and the value they’ll create, it offers us the greatest opportunity since the discovery of the New World.

 

 

Read the post on Forbes.com:

Impact-Driven Commerce And The New Role Of Business

Prior to Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella financing Columbus’ voyage to discover the New World, the Strait of Gibraltar was flanked by two pillars that bore the warning non plus ultra or, “Nothing further beyond,” serving as a warning to Mediterranean sailors and navigators to go no further.

Leave a Reply