Mark Shayler talks about the big changes that are impacting the world

Photo by Benjamin Davies

In his book Do Disrupt, business strategist and author Mark Shayler observes seven key changes that will affect how we do business, how our companies evolve to meet new challenges, and how this will impact the way we live and work.


Designed in California, Made in China is now. The future will be Designed in China, Made in Africa. The rise of living standards in the Far East means that this market will be the most significant in the world and drive trends and consumption. (By 2030, the middle class will have grown by an extra three billion — ten times more than the population of North America and four times more than the EU). It will also see stratospheric growth in the design, business, financial and service sectors. The West may own these things now but that won’t last. This natural rebalancing of power is here to stay and offers as many opportunities as it does problems. Businesses need to remain nimble and agile in order to survive.


This is long overdue and brings with it so many benefits. The old way of working, the tired, aggressive Apprentice-inspired way of working is dead. The broadening of the workforce by gender, most importantly at the top tiers of business, will mean welcome changes to the way we work.


I’m not just talking about buying a skydiving experience instead of a smartwatch, I’m talking about changes in how we consume things. The servitisation of our economy is happening all around us. Why buy something when you can rent it? Why buy a car when a service plan makes more sense both for you and Ford — as they keep you as a customer for longer? Why buy clothes when you can pay one of the fashion retailers a monthly fee to provide you with what you need and then take it back and reprocess it into new clothes for someone else? (Watch this space, it will happen really soon).

These changes are all around us. They improve things and build on the circular economy principles that will also guide us through resource-scarce times. There will be losers here, however. For example, in the case of cars it will be independent mechanics and second-hand car sales. They will need to fix other things, become aligned with a larger brand, or sell something else. They will need to change.


The gap between professional and amateur has gone. In the past you’d need a £10,000 editing suite and camera to make broadcast quality video. Now you just need your iPhone. In the past you’d need a team of web developers to get an online store up and running, now you need services like Squarespace or Shopify and about three hours. We are all creative. We have democratised media production.


In the past you’d book a weekend away via a travel agency, stay in a hotel, maybe even hire a car to get there. Now you’d rent a spare room from someone (Airbnb), eat with the host who is full of local knowledge, take advice from an online city guide written by people who live there, and you may use a car-club to drive around or get an Uber from the station. Things have changed — this is a biggie and we are still struggling to work out how to effectively monetise it at scale. But it also presents a big opportunity. How will this affect what you do?


We shop with our phones in our hands. Some of us are shopping less. Retail is panicking. What is it for? Who is it for? How does it make money? Manufacturers are increasingly bypassing retailers and going direct to customers as there is more margin, longer relationships and the customer gets a better deal. The surviving retailers in 10 years’ time will be either absolutely brilliant or totally automated.


Eeek, this one is scary. We are on the edge of an AI revolution. We have started it and we don’t know where it will end. This isn’t just robots making stuff, this is AI units on your customer care line that can think and make decisions — you genuinely can’t tell whether they’re human or not. Some commentators believe that up to 80 per cent of our jobs could be replaced by AI. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of our interaction with a brand will not involve a human. That’s a worry. Better get thinking.

Mark Shayler runs Ape, an innovation-sustainability-brand agency; he has worked with some of the world’s largest and smallest businesses including Amazon, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Unilever and John Lewis, saving them shed-loads of carbon, over £120 million, increasing sales by over 6,000%, and helping develop new products and services. He is co-founder of Rebel Cell where he builds startups inside larger organisations. He is also a founding partner of The Do Lectures.

Adapted from the new edition of Do Disrupt: Change the status quo. Or become it by Mark Shayler. Copyright © 2017 by Mark Shayler. Published by The Do Book Co, September 2017. Available now.

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