In his book "The World Is Flat", Thomas Friedman talks about the growth of the upwardly-mobile middle class, particularly in places like India and China, where millions of people now have the skills, education, money, technology and desire to raise Their standard of living. In short, they want what we've got.
This probably is not news to you. But have you really considered what impact it will have on your business? For many businesses – particularly those deal with information and expertise – a flatter world presents three threats and one (big) opportunity.
Threat # 1: Your competition just got bigger.
Your competitors are no longer only the people in your own city, state or country. They're not only other members of your professional association. They could be experts from everywhere, beamed into conferences, training rooms, networking events and board rooms from the other side of the world.
Threat # 2: Your clients just got smarter.
The flip side of this is that your clients are more demanding – and with good reason. Not only do they have a larger range of experts to choose from, they also have many other ways of getting the value you deliver.
After all, why should they pay for a one-off speech or training course from a local expert, when for the same money they might be able to watch three TED.com videos, use Open Space Technology to embed the learning, and then use A collaborative workspace to create meaningful action?
That leads on to the third – and biggest – threat …
Threat # 3: Your business probably will not exist in a decade.
Well, not in its current form. There will always be a place for face-to-face communication, of course. And the more you create unique experiences, the more you'll carve out a place for yourself.
But your competition will not just come from other speakers, trainers and consultants. Increasingly, your competitors will be other experts delivering the same message – and the same value – using e-learning over the Internet.
They'll be doing keynotes by video; Training by webinars and on-line courses; Facilitation through collaborative workspaces; Coaching and mentoring by Skype; And consulting using all of the above.
That's the bad news …
The Big Opportunity: YOU can own this space.
The good news, of course, is that you do not have to take any of this lying down.
You're the expert.
You've got valuable information to share.
You know how to structure it effectively.
Now you just need to learn how to deliver that expertise differently.
E-learning is not just about automating the delivery of your programs. It's about adding electronic teaching tools to your current offerings.
If you embrace this rather than rejecting it, it opens up – literally – a world of opportunity.
Opportunities for new ways to deliver your message.
Opportunities to reach more people.
And yes, opportunities for greater business success.
The opportunity is there. The choice is yours.