The “Rising Billion” and Your Business Model

What would your company look like if your content or app could reach 1 billion more people than you are reaching today? And what if that group was a self-driven, DIY-inclined audience who are not only consumers of your product, but potential improvers and collaborators? A new book, “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think” (by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler) makes the argument that this positive scenario will soon be reality, contrary to much of the gloom and doom many feel about the future. Diamandis and Kotler look at four factors – the “rising billion,” “exponential technologies,” “technophilanthropists” and “DIY innovators” – and determine that it is entirely possible to “meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman and child on the planet.” While the book is focused on the most critical challenges facing humanity across the globe, the concepts in the book also help illuminate how your business model might change in the coming years.

The book looks at the “rising billion” – the poorest one billion people in the world – which now constitute a viable marketplace because of “exponential technologies.” An 8 year-old in rural China has better communication technology than the President of the United States did a generation ago. As technology continues to improve exponentially while becoming significantly more affordable, the rising billion are gaining access to the global marketplace through cell phones, Internet cafes and libraries, and companies are figuring out how to reach those customers and fulfill their needs in a large-scale, affordable (but still profitable) manner – a business model that must be different from current channels. While your company may not be trying to reach this kind of global audience, the growth of mobile technology and mobile education domestically has exponentially increased the number and type of potential customers, and reaching a student or parent requires a different business model than reaching a school district.

“DIY innovation – with others” is another key concept the book explores. Because of advances in technology and communication, small organizations and even individuals can make significant contributions to complicated realms (such as biotechnology and computing).  This idea also allows knowledge to be shared directly. People want to learn and do things on their own, but they turn to a community – increasingly, an online one – for knowledge and experience, which often turns into collaboration. Students turn to YouTube and resources like the Khan Academy, instead of relying only on textbooks and resources from the classroom. So the question to ask yourself is, does your offering continue to be of the “Sage on the Stage” variety or are you adapting to facilitated learning?

Ultimately, “Abundance” argues that the future is bright because of technological advances that are bringing access and knowledge to nearly everyone on the planet. Companies that can adapt to this changing and growing marketplace with mobile technology, collaboration and sharing resources in new ways are also looking at bright futures. These areas are exactly where we see investment dollars flowing right now.  If your company is looking at ways to adapt to this marketplace, consider contacting Arc for advice and support on revenue diagnostics, go-to-market planning and other services that could you’re your company to the next level.