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While it’s true that intangible resources such as creativity and intellectual capital are increasingly important in today’s global economy, the availability and utilization of oil, gas, and other raw materials, and of human and technology resources, will continue to shape global trends for decades to come. In fact, the need to optimize these resources has never been greater, and the stakes have never been higher, both for business and for society.

“Various macroeconomic forces demand that companies (large or small) become more fluid in their approach to production, distribution, and planning,” says @Networml. “This requires more efficient and flexible design elements in making and delivering products. One must plan for crisis management ahead of time so as not to disrupt the value chain for any length of time. A company’s ability to adjust to market forces shows: 1) leadership in a specific niche, 2) maturity, and 3) importance placed upon the relationship with distributors and customers. A mobile world demands dynamic solutions.”

Indeed, we expect resource scarcity to drive major shifts in global markets, placing new emphasis on some very specific corporate capabilities. For example, as volatility of raw materials increases, manufacturers will need to predict supply shortages to reduce risk within their supply chains. Also, companies will engage in collaborative resource consumption, where privately owned but underused assets can be rented to others precisely when needed. All of this is made possible by the monitoring and management of connections among people, devices, and systems. In these ecosystems, previously undetected information becomes instantly visible, creating a new natural resource of sorts, waiting to be tapped.

The technologies to support these scenarios already exist. And the corporate competencies needed to benefit from them are being developed. “Computerization gives merchandisers the ability to almost instantly be informed about sales of items in branch operations, and what they need to order to replace that merchandise,” says @Adrian Zolkover. “This creates a much higher level of productivity.”

And the benefits of this efficiency extend beyond corporate earnings. Conservation of resources is also a societal goal—with potential to improve quality of life around the world. “The first thing that comes to mind is a dramatic reduction in waste,” says @duser. “Imagine a world in which nothing goes unused for long. That’s powerful. Beyond that, though, we’re talking about protecting critical resources, not just for businesses, but for the world. That leads to less risk, fewer conflicts, and higher living standards.”

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