CHAPTER 1 Gargantuan and growing: the digital economy

The current focus on social media has many leaders wondering about its impact on their careers and businesses. They are asking:

  • Is this a structural change or just a fad?
  • Does it impact the whole economy or just particular industries?
  • Does it apply across a business or just to sales?
  • Is it the right time to invest in social platforms?
  • What’s it worth?
  • How, if at all, does social media contribute to productivity and the bottom line?

Let me paint the picture.

How connected are we?

The number of people online has doubled since 2007 to 2.55 billion, and 91 per cent of them use social or mobile networks. That’s an awe-inspiring number, but it’s just the start of a steep trajectory.

More than half of the world has yet to come on board, but they are doing so now, to the tune of eight new users a second (that means around 40 new people came online while you were reading that sentence). In developing countries in particular, new users are skipping the path we took through analogue and hardwired technologies and going straight to digital, mobile, social.

Just as you’ve never lived in a world without cars and think of the horse-and-cart as historically quaint, so billions have never lived without hyper-connection. Would you tether a horse to a cart? Take it to a meeting across town? Could you even do so if you wanted to? I imagine not. So why do we expect others will want to connect with us on antiquated systems?

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