In April, 2005, NY Times columnist Tom Friedman published The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Globalized World in the Twenty-first Century. Friedman’s bestseller did much to explain to a wide audience the impact of the Internet and related technologies on the connected, global economy that was rising all around us.
A few years later, Friedman was a keynote speaker at a 2011 conference commemorating IBM’s Centennial. To illustrate the incredibly fast pace of change, Friedman noted that in the short time-span since World is Flat was published, we were already transitioning from a connected to an increasingly hyperconnected world. Many of the companies and technologies that are now part of our every day conversations, - Facebook, Twitter, Cloud, Smartphones, Big Data, LinkedIn, 4G or Skype, - were not mentioned in the connected global economy he wrote about only 6 years earlier because they had not been born or were in their infancy.
What do we mean by a hyperconnected economy? I recently found a really good answer in an excellent study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), Global Flows in the Digital Age. The study takes an in-depth look at the expansion of cross-borders flows in the economy. It carefully analyzed these flows in 5 different categories: goods, services, finance, people and data and communications. It then developed the MGI Connectedness Index, which measures these 5 flows in 131 countries, examined how the flows had changed over the past 10 - 20 years, and predicted how they are likely to evolve over the next decade.