Flashback to 2017

During a meeting with ITE College East and Carousell representative for a potential collaboration, we discussed about technology advancement and how difficult it is nowadays to develop a fresh business idea. It occurs to me that with the power of internet, idea cross pollination is leading to exponential speed of change. This also means that those who are living the same routine every day, meeting the same group of colleagues, doing the same job, having the same conversations are facing a huge opportunity cost to be exposed to new concepts, new perspective, new experiences that foster new ideas for future survival.

In this article, I would like to share about several mega trends that I have learnt from my partners Liu Yan, Jack Sim and from my learning journey in the past 3 months, hoping to offer some perspectives for my circle of friends who are parents, educators, entrepreneurs, employees, employers to be more prepared for the future.

Trend 1: From ownership to access

Business model such as Grab and Uber enables peer to peer transport service and pay per use concept. I own a car, I can use it to offer you a service and you pay me for it. In this way, Grab and Uber are able to mobilize untapped resource (time of the car owner, unused period of the car) to offer affordable transport solution to the mass. Lower set-up cost for the firms (no need to buy so many cars like taxi firms), distributive profit for the car owners, affordable cost and higher access to transport services for customers. A win-win-win situation for everyone.

In my work at School of Gumption, the idea of access to social capital becomes a very powerful mean to reach high value resources owned by collaborators among the ecosystem. Powered by trust, genuine intention to do good, willingness to learn, give and share, SOG team has gained much access to social capital, intellectual capital and physical resources. Every conversation, visit helps to expand our perspectives, idea evolves and takes shape day by day.

Trend 2: From standardization to personalization

The profit making model by producing goods for consuming purpose will eventually reach a saturating point, when the red ocean of middle and high class consumers no longer need more clothes to wear, more phones to use or more TVs to watch. Businesses have long entered the field of offering services as a product, and consumers now want to have a wider range of choices for service provided. Business model such as AirBnB offering personalized travelled experience compared to standardized tour package, bike sharing business offering transporting solution from anywhere, any distance, any destination.

Trend 3: From owning to sharing

Macdonald and Pizza Hut used to have their in-house delivery staff. I often saw these deliverers waiting outside the shops waiting for delivery order to arrive. However, with Foodpanda and Deliveroo in the market, restaurants are now no longer have to pay for their own delivery staff and diners have a much wider options for foods to be delivered to their homes. Owning a scooter and have free time to spare? why not joining our team of deliverers across the island to have some income? Again, a win-win-win solution for everyone. To this point, I remembered a conversation with SOG’s senior advisor from Silicon Valley. He was talking about co-working trend to co-living trend among entrepreneurs and free lancers. A transition from capitalism to communism is in the making! This time, not by force, but by choice!

Trend 4: From centralizing to crowd-sourcing

From ideas, to data, to resources, entrepreneurs have now realized that the wisdom of the crowd is always much richer than any individuals or groups. Corporate are slowly opening up their doors by offering free space for innovators, freelancers, stakeholders to enter and co-create solutions together. Free apps are developed to reach millions of users to develop data insight (imagine how much money can be saved from hiring a market research team to collect information from millions of users!).

Trend 5: From disposable to circular economy

In the past, when children didn’t want to study in schools, parents often threatened “Do you want to be a Karanguni (people who collected thrown-away stuff and resell to make a living) in the future? “. Now, if my son doesn’t want to do homework and fails exam, I would probably say “It is okay, son. You can still be a Karanguni, save the environment and earn good money in the future”. This statement is not surprising when I heard stories of successful businessmen reselling telco-infrastructure, old vehicles and equipments, and the latest opportunity heard “5 star hotels are struggling to dispose 20 tons of good condition furniture per year”, any taker?

There are several other trends in term of job (permanent job to project-based engagement), education which I will not be able to list here (otherwise, the write-up will become too long). In presenting the economy landscape (which will eventually drive changes in learning and education structure), I would like to emphasize 3 key insights:

Firstly, VALUES and CHARACTERS first. If you observe the above trends, there is a critical need for a person to establish trust to gain access to social capital network, as well as working collaboratively and interdependently with others.

Secondly, meeting NEW people, having NEW experience, reading NEW information will give you NEW ingredients for NEW solutions.

Thirdly, learning from others but PERSONALIZE your experience, your learning, your solution, your process. There is no one-size-fit-all knowledge (except universal laws from nature). Following your inner drive, listening to your inner voice, constantly connecting internal and external experience to discover what works for you.

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