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The Consumer Powershift in Information and Communication Technology

Deb Westphal
March 14, 2014

Consumer PowershiftNo one would argue that the last couple decades have been a time of rapid, unparalleled growth and change in information and communication technology (ICT). Just take a glance in any workplace, school, airport, shopping mall – virtually anywhere – and you can see how advancements in technology have radically changed the manner and speed with which we communicate.

Not that long ago, growth in ICT was driven mostly by infrastructure, network, and operations. Change was propelled by things like emerging satellite and cellular technologies, expanded access for consumers, and increasingly sophisticated user equipment. Value was driven by the technology itself.

Looking ahead, though, the next 20 years will bring a dramatic shift in that value chain. Consumers – not technology – will drive ICT.

Why Will Consumers Drive ICT?

People and businesses today consume, access, create, enrich, direct, and share digital information at any time, from any device and location, for any reason. This increasingly ubiquitous, swift, and seamless access to information has just barely whetted the appetites of today’s consumer. Expectation and demand is only going to increase from here. Continued improvements in bandwidth, speed, and delivery will only fuel that demand and make it soar even higher.

But this is not only happening here in developed countries. By 2030, all global regions of the world – even remote areas – will be digitally connected. The so-called disadvantaged users living in previously unreachable areas will represent a new market of consumers. And they too will have needs, wants, and expectations of communication capability.

How Does the Future of ICT Impact Businesses Today?

Today’s organizations have no choice but to look ahead and anticipate the future. Since we know the consumer will be the driver in ICT, companies must explore important questions like, what will my consumers demand? What will my consumers’ habits and preferences look like? Where will they be? What will be important to them?

Take that a step further, and this means that organizations must get into the heads of their customers – present and future. A company that spends no time in its customers’ space, observing and questioning, will be left behind, unable to even imagine its own future.

Prepare for the Future

From the perspective of looking back from the future, organizations must be agile enough today to continuously adapt their structure, people, processes, technology, and relationships so they are ready for tomorrow. That is the approach and strategy behind Toffler Associate’s Future ProofSM methodology. 

Deb Westphal

Deb Westphal

Deborah Westphal is a passionate humanist who has guided our era’s top minds and leaders to challenge biases, ignite ideas, and build connections and resilience for a secure and sound future. Her career spans more than 30 years in government agencies and Fortune 100 companies, and on virtually every continent. In 1999, Alvin Toffler tapped her as one of the founding members of his eponymous consulting firm, Toffler Associates. From 2007 through 2018, she served as the firm’s CEO and has since contributed her experience and knowledge as a member of the board. Through her work, she has guided notable organizations including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Marriott, U.S. Air Force, Baxter International, Bayer, Heinz, Microsoft, Koppers, PPG, DARPA, National Security Agency, Loral Space Systems, NASA, Qwest, Verizon, and Westinghouse. Deborah’s empathetic and thought-provoking style helps readers spot patterns that signify future risks and opportunities. She’s a sought-after speaker and writer who provided the Foreword to After Shock. Her book, Convergence: Technology, Business, and the Human-Centric Future, was published in May 2021 by Unnamed Press. Find her at deborahwestphal.com.

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