When I think about the future of business, the behavior of consumers gives me serious pause. Their demands are changing how we do business—even how we innovate. I know we’ve heard this before. But something’s quite different. The digital era is like nothing we’ve ever experienced before.

It’s going to play a role in everything. Everything. From how we drive (uh, don’t drive, that is) to how we receive medical services. Robotic surgery, anyone? Already, banks, mobile network operators, and financial technology companies are battling to capture and retain fickle consumers.

And these battles for market share are only just beginning to heat up. Now is the best time to get your arms around the coming “new normal” to position your organization for success.


To help, our team partnered with the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an IMD and Cisco initiative, to create the Business World in 2025 report. It’s a look into the future, providing the insight you need to spark an important boardroom conversation.

In my previous blog, I shared my thoughts on the scenario Global Bazaar and what it means for your business. The second of these scenarios is Cautious Capitalism, which I’ll cover here.

Cautious Capitalism Requires Early Thinking

Even now, early indicators show that we may soon be entering a scenario of Cautious Capitalism. This scenario is based on the following three forces:

  • Global markets – international trade flourishes and companies can scale globally
  • Blurring industry boundaries – regulation supports business to compete across different verticals (e.g., by using technology to expand services)
  • Internet skepticism – while Internet access may be ubiquitous, cybercrime, personal data, and privacy violations mean that people are skeptical of the online world and disengage from it

The signs are clear, by 2019, cybercrime will cost businesses $2 trillion a year. That’s an incredible number—and it puts your organization in the crosshairs of financial ruin. Even worse, a huge 48 percent of mobile app users indicate they’ll limit their use of apps unless they felt sure their personal information was better safeguarded.

Losing customers in large numbers could put a stranglehold on your business. But it’s a reality that can’t be avoided. We expect consumers to take back control of their data—and turn to privacy-friendly companies. This triggers a new competitive environment. A risk to your organization’s very survival.

So what’s the answer?  What can you begin doing today to protect your turf? Or at least give your business a fighting chance to lead as everything continues to come online?

As an example, let’s look at a smartphone mobile wallet provider in India. What could they do now to secure their place at the table in 2025? Well, their focus should be to retain consumer trust.

But rising cybercrime makes this almost impossible and trust in online services will inevitably plummet. The solution might be to partner with a trusted brand, like a bank, or perhaps merging or partnering with big trusted tech players like Amazon.

For smaller players, doing the above is easier said than done. In fact, in the world of Cautious Capitalism incumbents and big brands have a substantial competitive advantage.

Startups and smaller providers need to be on the lookout now for strategies to bump consumer confidence. This includes coming up with innovative new ideas, but also means taking basic strategic decisions like whom to partner with, or how to build services that create trust.

The point is the providers—regardless of industry—shouldn’t stand still.

Every single organization will be affected in some way. The time to take meaningful action is now. What’s your organization’s long-term strategy? Have you taken the possible impact of cybercrime? What about consumer trust and your Internet engagement strategy?

Are you prepared to create the future you and your company want? Look at the report’s four scenarios, and then discuss them with your executive colleagues and with your teams. Stake your claim for the future—now.

Want more insight? Read the complete report here. In my next blog, I’ll share my thoughts on Territorial Dominance and how your organization can play to win in this environment.



Stephan Monterde

Director, Corporate Strategic Innovation

Chief Strategy Office