June 25, 2011


New technologies and products will not catch on equally fast everywhere. We tell you which regions are receptive to innovations and what companies must do in order to develop future blockbusters. The sixth megatrend in the Roland Berger Trend Compendium analyzes the new challenges of the global knowledge society in 2030. What knowledge workers will companies need in the future and where will they find them?

Who or what will drive innovation?

The innovation potential of developed and developing countries differs significantly: developed countries have more financial and human resources. The United States is currently the leader in terms of innovation capacity, followed by Switzerland and Sweden. Germany ranks 9th out of 17 industrial states.

Among developing countries, the upper-middle income countries achieve only 3.3% of the scientific innovation and invention rate of the high-income countries, and the lower-middle & low-income countries less than 0.6%.

However, by 2030, some developing countries will become major competitors in the latest technologies and innovations. China is actively pursuing leadership in environmentally friendly technologies and alternative energy.

Where will innovations come from?

How can firms extend R&D activities without investing heavily? By establishing cooperative partnerships & networks. A great advantage lies in the synergies between different fields. Universities or research institutes can be valuable partners. To be competitive, companies must be sensitive to technology trends, and have to create awareness of them within their organizations. To identify future technologies, companies need to focus on signals in their main business as well as in other areas.

How and where will new expertise emerge?

Up through 2030, the knowledge gaps between developed and developing countries will narrow. Developing countries will catch up significantly in terms of knowledge spread, education and R&D activity. Most of the growth in knowledge linking via the Internet will come from developing countries. From 2005 to 2010, the Internet penetration rate nearly tripled, and the next 20 years are likely to see a double-digit growth rate as well. Africa in particular will see extraordinary growth rates.

How companies can prepare for the global knowledge society

Companies need to establish a system that combines knowledge from different areas in an efficient, up-to-date network. Openness to the knowledge of others, knowledge sharing and common knowledge creation will become key targets for enterprises.
As the war for talent intensifies, the best employees will be more difficult to find. Companies must be prepared to source talent from all over the world. It is also essential to create working models that are suitable for and attractive to women. These must incorporate flexibility, career opportunities and child care. Companies should also intensify collaboration with universities and other organizations that attract young professionals.
In addition, retention management and strategies for future-based workforce planning are needed to avoid skills shortages.
Jun 17, 2011

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