BCG coined the phrase ‘two speed world’ to describe the difference in growth prospects between the developed and the developing world.[i][i] Ashley and Lloyd see a world of incremental change and disruption in their new book “Two Speed World.” [ii][ii] Deloitte’s Center for Edge Innovation believes in a shift from “push” to “pull”.[iii][iii]
But growth rates in emerging markets can be ephemeral. Economies built on imitation rather than innovation may struggle to build long term wealth. Constant disruption is overtaking incremental change. The shift from push to pull assumes a single process albeit happening at different rates.
An alternative vision of a two speed world is the difference between the physical and the virtual world – the former is growing slowly; the latter exponentially.
While the U.S. was in recession, PayPal, an ecommerce business, was growing at over 20 percent.[iv][iv] Smartphones and slates have been the runaway success stories of 2010. Microsoft’s Kinect is taking the technology of user interfaces to a game changing level exceeding sales estimates. In this context, BCG’s assertion that there is “no alternative economic engine” should be viewed with caution.[v][v]
Goldman’s investment in Facebook is a key signal that we are seeing the birth of a new economy, one that is free to consumers and invested in simple products like connections, search presence and mobility. This new economy is virtual, global and of course social.
The new economy is changing at a blurring rate, while the old economy – the physical world – often struggles with change. The old economy assumes a finite market size, the new economy redefines markets and the basis of competition.
Is this Dotcom 2.0? Have we been here before – excessive exuberance followed by a crash? Public markets are mainly about the present. Perhaps private markets have a better vision of the future.