In 2030, business models that enable a smaller circle of connections could prove more profitable.

Is a hyperconnected economy where having more connections,more followers,more fans, & more influence


Richard Fouts

3 years ago | 6 min read

Global connectivity, which makes it as easy to connect to people across the world, as to those in the next cubical, is one of the most dramatic developments of the modern age. But, things are changing.

Peer into the future, and hyperconnectivity has assumed new shapes, forms and business models, as consumers re-think what it’s really like to be always-on, always-available, and always-competing with other digital enthusiasts.

Contrary motion and the hyperconnected economy.

In music, contrary motion occurs when soprano voices rise as the basses descend, a technique designed to create a particular emotional response. Contrary motion also occurs in economies, for example as the money supply ascends, interest rates descend. Or consider an increase in government revenues as taxes fall.

Music offers a metaphor for the dynamics of modern economies.

Contrary motion is also becoming manifest in global connectivity. Even though billions of new devices connect to the Internet every day, new evidence suggests our circles of connections are getting smaller (particularly in the social economy).

Big FOMO, Meet Small JOMO.

If you’re an EVITE user you’ve likely noticed invitees tagged as “Tentative” often outpace those who firmly commit. FOMOs (people who have a Fear Of Missing Out) delay commitment in case something better comes along. Then there are the extreme FOMOs who commit to just about everything.

Now, the Fear of Missing Out is being challenged by the Joy of Missing Out (#JOMO), a hashtag that shows hyper-participation is often just too exhausting.

I have a growing number of friends who actually shut their business phones off while on vacation. They even stay off email, ignore the news, and avoid checking their investment portfolio, preferring to engage in conversation and a cocktail (versus posting on Instagram) while lounging at the pool.

Peer into the year 2035, and my wealthiest friends are paying big bucks to vacation on a remote island, where they drive a 20-year-old BMW i8, sans nanobots. Their insurance company is also charging them a bundle to drive on their own.

The food my friends consume is locally grown (there are no designer meals) and telephone service is provided through old-fashioned land lines. Sophisticated controls block data pollution. Incidentals are purchased with physical money, lights come on via manual switches, and knobs are turned to make water flow from faucets.

No hotel app upon check-in offers recommendations. Information is available from the hotel staff (and no, they aren’t robots). It’s two weeks of total brain-reboot as these hip, modern consumers interact with things that can be seen, smelled, felt, and heard.

When my friends return home, they start to miss the emotional resonance they experienced during disconnection, as they slip back into unlimited access and choice, hyper-sharing, cyber-bulling, and fear of identity theft (all magnified by global connectivity).

Hence, contrary motion kicks in, and the stress of global connectivity pushes our case study participants back to locally-grown experiences.

Such experiences start to impact the global supply chain, made possible with emerging technologies such as 3D printing. For example, fast forward to 2035, and half of what we consume is printed in our home or at our neighborhood store.

Source: The Medical Futurist
Source: The Medical Futurist

Then there’s healthcare. In the near future, local pharmacies will use 3D printing to solve inventory problems, improve quality and sustain drug consistency. Today, in-hospital 3D printers are helping to ease medical supply shortages in the COVID-19 fight.

Though no evidence shows that locally printed products will be cheaper (to the contrary, they might be more expensive) the business case for 3D printing will grow as citizens show a preference to support their local economies.

There’s also the peace-of-mind factor: when things like beef are recalled, consumers start buying from local sources, even if they spend more.

Trends, such as the local printing of food, could also impact the existing food oligopoly. Today, half our food is grown from the seeds of just three companies, manufactured by three wholesalers and sold through a dozen retailers. That could dramatically change as 3D printing encourages more local food consumption.

Local solutions to global housing shortages.

In Southern Mexico, 50 families will move into the world’s first 3D-printed community. In Austin, Texas, six homeless people moved into small 3D-printed homes last May. As fears about the future of humanity on Earth increase, 3D printing will also offer a way to locally colonize the moon.

Source: Bosch Rexroth AG

The trend toward local interaction and a smaller pool of connections could also have negative consequences:

Beijing has banned Google and Facebook. Its heavy regulation has caused other outsiders to sell to Chinese providers (Uber) or leave the country altogether (Amazon), limiting social media and messaging to Baidu and WeChat. Didi is pretty much the only choice for ride sharing.

Toutiao is the dominate news provider. Citizens don’t seem to care that this techno-protectionist trend makes it easier for the government to surveil them.

As the world moves toward techno-protectionism, membership in one ecosystem could restrict, even deprive, participation in another.

Of course, this trend is also a response to the desire for a more manageable digital life. (Research shows that 75% of apps are used just once after download, then never used again).

“Deep fake” technologies.

Then there’s deepfakes, which have garnered widespread attention for their uses in celebrity pornographic videos, revenge porn, fake news, hoaxes, and financial fraud. Deepfakes are easier than ever to create thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence.

If you think you’re smarter than the deep-fakers consider that in 2019, the CEO of a U.K.-based energy firm transferred €220,000 into a Hungarian bank account when a deep faker impersonated the voice of the parent firm’s chief executive.

Which future will emerge?

Source: Anna Schlosser

Digital futurists, especially those from Hollywood, prefer to write about a dystopian society which has succumbed to the evils of smart machines (Skynet). Others, clearly in the minority, trend toward technology nirvana (Forbidden Planet).

An easy bet is to predict a societal split where one segment allows chips (embedded into its bodies) to guide its every move. Another segment moves from hyper to hypo-connectivity, completely detaching from oversexed, intelligence-laden, ubiquitous devices that have rendered the human brain nearly useless.

As marketers, we know how to sell to different segments, but when personas split this dramatically, our value propositions collapse.

Hence, we’ll see more product brands migrate to lifestyle brands, using sub-brands to address segments with extreme differences (e.g., one sells to hypo-connected seniors, the other to hyper-connected teens).

Hedging bets is one thing, but there are other sure-things we can pretty much count on.

Increases in processing power and network bandwidth will feed edge computing at even faster rates, driving the need for better cybersecurity. It’s hardly a stretch to predict the steady emergence of technologies such as 5G, quantum computing, AI, and renewable energy.

The tough part is predicting how the applications of maturing technology will be consumed and adopted over the long haul (hence, our labeling of socioeconomics as the dismal science).

While smart homes sound appealing, some people are reverting back to manual switches and knobs, saying “it makes me feel alive to turn things on myself.” I am often struck by the growing numbers of young people I see reading hardcopy books.

No matter what happens, companies will need to invest in universal brand principles that have existed for centuries: trust. For many users, individual privacy, reliability and predictability will be just as important.

As the future unfolds, every brand should be investing in how it can be the most trusted in its industry. Stay focused on how your brand experience sustains not just reliability but advances life quality, both professional and personal.

One way to avoid getting caught or surprised by the future is to start behaving like the future is already here (as Bezos did with Amazon).

Design products with modularity. Accommodate upward and downward scalability. Counter hyperconnected segments with those preferring to be less connected. Keep Moore’s Law front and center. Assume the inevitability of more COVID-like viruses.

The best way to adapt to the future is to not ignore it.


Created by

Richard Fouts

I help organizations get their stories above the market noise.







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