25 December 2003

2004 Insights and Perspectives

By Peter L. Higgins

One only has to look into the mirror of 2003 to see where our world is headed. The globe is preparing itself for the next major breakpoint in its history of commerce and business. Our organizations are in anarchy and the consumers of our products and services are shifting before our eyes.

You only have to look back on the past years major headlines of the New York Times to gain some perspective on where we are headed in the next 12 months. Social consciousness is seeping into the workplace and management is keenly aware of the change factors on the corporate doorstep for 2004.

Several new waves of change are upon us. As providers of products and services to the consumers of the planet, whether businesses or individuals, the writing is on the walls of the corporate boardroom. Survive.

The tides of change are upon us. Look no further than the Seven Revolutions Initiative. See 7 Revs. The social, technological and demographic facets are enough to make anyone wonder where we are all headed in the next 20 years. The financial and healthcare industries are putting the building blocks in place to sustain a dramatic shift in who their customers are today and whom they will be tomorrow.

To survive in 2004 and beyond, the corporate gray matter will have to respond to the changing consumer. See LOHAS 8 to gain more insight on how the thought leaders of corporations large and small are changing to address the demands of a $227 BILLION, values-based consumer market. These are consumers who value health, the environment, social justice, personal development and sustainable living.

2004 will be another year of corporate malfeasance seeded with wondrous accounts of incivility. Spawned by the empowered employee to become a whistle blower and a new generation of crime fighters, now Elliot Ness has transformed into a man named Elliott Spitzer. Ness, was every bit as honest, diligent, and hard working as his modern counter-part but also flawed in terribly human ways. Whether cleaning up the illegal and social misdeeds of the Ness 1920s and 1930s or Spitzers 2000s requires an understanding of the core motivations of the being we call human.

The generations of young workers and consumers on this planet will pay for something they can believe in, rather than something that is less than socially and morally bankrupt. They will work all day in the global banking software development department and work late into the night developing the next Bugbear or Nimda code to impress their peers developing malicious code on the Internet. They will design the new marketing campaign for the next gas guzzling SUV by day and ride home that same evening in their brand new foreign hybrid using electric power.

2004 will be a year of heightened sensitivity to security and terrorism. Our processes and systems will be adjusted and tweaked to accommodate the new threats. The Board Room Buzz will be more about how to protect those vital corporate assets and how to survive the next crisis. What will be most interesting is how the governments of the world cooperate to become more of a global partner on this front. We sense already a growing cooperation among world leaders to deter and defend our citizens from the spread of fear and uncertainty.

Finally, 2004 will be the year we find greater appreciation for things like:

The evening glimmer of sunlight on clean water. The wave from the neighbor who lives next door. Our faith in what or whomever we believe in. Those who serve, so we can remain free of threats or illness to our loved ones and our own well-being. The signs that our bodies are healthy. The hope that exists in all of us for finding peace of mind. In 2004, look with fresh eyes on everyday things.

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