By Simon Bond

Not a day goes by when there is not some "left field event" that roils markets. News is now instant and constant via social media, and an attack in the UK for example, is news globally within seconds. The traditional news networks now chase the netizens for information, images and footage.

How the world has changed. In April 2007, the world's largest company was Exxon Mobil. Gazprom, Royal Dutch Shell and BP were also on the ticket. Fast forward a decade and those guys are gone, to be replaced by Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Co. In another decade, the list will probably be populated by companies we have not yet considered. So whats next? Below, I have encapsulated my view of the future. In a nutshell, the network always wins. In the future, companies might not even have a "marketing" department. It may come with a new title, the "networking" department. 

The new world order

The network always wins

What is happening in front of our eyes is that everything is becoming connected to everything else. Information is flowing through networks with greater intensity, and that completely changes everything. Markets are disappearing, becoming networks of information with the customer at their heart.

And if the outside world becomes a network, companies will have to follow suit. 

Volatility comes from the Latin verb volare, which means “to fly.” It basically means that things tend to vary often and widely. In today’s world, things are changing faster and faster, and stability often seems unattainable. After the financial crisis and the economic turmoil of the past few years, many people have been wondering, “When will things get back to being stable again?” 

The answer could be never. 

Perhaps we’re living in times of greater and greater instability, more and more turbulence, and increasing volatility. Stability is flying away.

Many of us grew up trying to build a world based on security, things that we could count on, bank on, and build on. Now, more and more, we seem to be surrounded by uncertainties. We’re uncertain about where the economy is heading. We’re uncertain about where technology is heading. We’re uncertain about whether our companies will survive, how our customers will react, and how our markets will evolve. 

We seem to be heading toward a world in which we have more uncertainties than certainties to deal with.

The result is that in the world of today, business strategies have become more fluid. The traditional five-year plan makes no sense to companies whose world is changing faster and faster. What use is a five-year strategy for the newspaper industry, which is watching its markets disappear at the hands of Twitter and Craigslist? 

What use is a five-year strategy for the television industry, which is seeing its markets flip completely because of YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu? The reality is that companies now update their strategies more frequently than ever before. They have to, if they want to survive. I heard one CEO say, “We still have a five-year strategy. Actually I have a new one every three months.” 

This is the era of “fluid strategy,” and it means that companies have to act more quickly and be more agile than ever before.

Thanks to the new normal effects of digitisation, we’ve started to build a society that is entirely based on the concept of networks. We have networks of information, networks of knowledge, networks of entertainment, networks of friends, and networks of enterprises. 

Everything we see around us is based on the concept of networks.

What we’re beginning to see appear in society, business, and our social lives is that the world is completely defined by networks.

Facebook, for example, was founded on the idea that while there’s value in discrete information about people (their names, what they do, etc.), there’s even more value in the relationships between them.

Antonio Damasio, professor of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California said it beautifully: “Our emotions influence our thinking much more than our thinking influences our emotions.” 

In this era, companies must understand how to influence networks in order to influence individual consumers. 

Careers are mechanisms of advancement, and the concept of climbing ladders and structures has become rather meaningless in the age of networks. More and more people are focused on individual projects, not on one overarching path. People want to be able to sample new insights and try out fresh approaches. They want to keep their options open and be able to change direction. 

Old-style serial résumés, which depict one job after another, are on the way out. Today, more and more people are embarking on parallel paths, with multiple interests and simultaneous projects. 

When the laws of network behaviour overturn our understanding of market dynamics, we will see that the companies that survive will be those that have understood the need to drastically rethink their organisational fabric.

So there, thats my view.