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The hero’s journey through the landscape of the future

RAPID advances in technology and the liberalization of public policy have shaped a world in which large companies face increasing performance pressure amidst sinking return on assets, intense competition, and changing workforce dynamics. Individuals are taking advantage of lowered barriers to market entry and commercialization to become creators in their own right. As a result, a new economic landscape is beginning to emerge in which a relatively few large, concentrated players will provide infrastructure, platforms, and services that support many fragmented, niche players. In this way, both large players and small will coexist and reinforce each other. Some parts of the economy will be more affected by fragmentation than others, and more quickly, but the fragmentation will be enduring rather than transitory. In this new landscape, much of the world’s economic value will be created by the relationships among participants. Therefore, it is less useful to look at any one company than to consider the dynamics that will develop among the large and small players. This changing landscape will have implications for companies and individuals. Large companies will likely play one of three roles in this new landscape: infrastructure providers, aggregation platforms, or agent businesses. Today’s large companies will need to assess whether the market for their core products or services is susceptible to fragmentation and choose where to focus in the future. The actions they take today can help to position themselves for the role they choose to play in the future. For individuals and small entities, the new landscape offers opportunities to transform the pressures of today into profitable new ventures.