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The exponential economy: are you ready?

Technology & Data

The exponential economy: are you ready?


Set some ludicrously ambitious goals for yourself this year, says John Halpin, because the exponential economy cannot be stopped.

john halpinEvery few years it seems that certain forces shaping the global economy start moving in a similar direction.  They create a momentum all of their own and form their own sub-economies; the digital economy has iterated a number of times as waves of ecommerce have opened up new markets. The experience economy recognised the importance of brand beyond the product itself. In more recent times, we’ve had ‘the year of mobile’ thrown at us again and again. But in 2018, a new momentum is building with the potential to create a seismic shift in markets around the world.


Welcome to the exponential economy

It’s the system where organisations develop new business models that employ intelligent technology to unlock infinite growth potential – growth that not only wasn’t possible until very recently, but wasn’t even conceivable based on our old linear business models. We can no longer rely on the past to predict the future. We need a new mindset and new behaviours to keep pace with the change that will impact all of us.

Let’s break this down further into its three component parts:

  1. New business models: a disruptive business model that reinvents, blends or modernises an industry that unlocks accessibility and opportunity for its users.
  2. Intelligent technology: the application of technology that improves customer experience with every interaction.
  3. Infinite scalability: able to accommodate infinite interactions. Doesn’t require physical capacity building in order to scale. Requires only nominal incremental cost, whilst maintaining revenue growth. Borderless.   

Businesses of the past were based on the premise of ownership and scarcity – people, money, resources. Businesses in the exponential economy work off the principle of abundance – that gaining access or sharing works better than ownership. It’s what allows them to scale faster than we’re used to with traditional linear growth models.

If you thought it was hard to keep pace before, it’s about to get a whole lot harder. But if you’re one of the innovators in your business, one of the people prepared to lead from the front, then here’s how you can start to shift your perspective to meet the exponential economy.


Build global solutions

Virtually all business starts small. Applying the principles of start-up culture has emphasised the ‘build-measure-learn’ mentality that’s focused on iterative improvement over big bets. But the principle behind it is exponential growth. Small continuous changes that don’t look that big at the time, but are designed with exponential growth in mind. The ability to scale incredibly quickly for global markets, not the local high street.  

Scalability needs to be at the forefront of thinking from the get go.


Ignore the rules

Technically the rules of getting a ride in a car from one point to another were set. Then along came Uber with complete disregard for the rules. Rather than focus on the constraints of the current market, it focused on what would make the customer happy and how it could scale that solution through a digital platform.

The result changed the rules.

Uber is evidence of how a single player can completely reset expectations and make the competition between the existing players look like petty schoolyard fights over whose ball it is. It doesn’t matter; Uber just owned the whole sport.

This is the exponential economy in action.


Steal from Google

At no point in history have we had access to so much information, so many opportunities to learn and apply that knowledge to create new solutions. Yet, for the most part we’re unable to elevate out of the daily grind to consider how we multiply our impact.

Businesses fall over themselves to collaborate with the likes of Google. They want some of their magic. But when was the last time you asked your team for ‘10x thinking’? This concept sits at the heart of Google’s innovation culture –both an invitation to dare and a challenge to meet. Thinking about how you make something 10 times better than the existing solution means you have to let go of the current parameters. You have to be prepared to reinvent the entire experience.  

It’s what the exponential economy demands.  


Get ambitious and get audacious

The good thing is that your ability to meet its demands isn’t based on your current resources, size or position. It’s based on the one thing that’s equally available to every business in the country – ambition. Start 2018 by setting some ludicrously ambitious goals for yourself, your team and your business.

Multiply your goals. Get exponential.


John Halpin is a senior partner at Unthink



Image copyright: jeabjeab / 123RF Stock Photo



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