Theme - 5th October


Politics, companies and consumers: every part of society is dealing with power. It has been this way in the past and it will continue to be this way in the future. However, the way power is manifested and used in today’s society is changing. Through innovations and changing perceptions, companies, politics and consumers get more and more intertwined, changing the balance of power. Where politics first belonged to just the government, companies in today’s society are gaining more power due to their size and cross-border activities. Once dominated by white men, management of firms, now seek to promote diversity and equality at the top. Finally, consumers that were once loyal to companies, are now challenging businesses to reverse their fortune, serving to their every need and desire. In other words: in today’s society, the distribution of power is evolving towards a new equilibrium. As the balance of power is shifting, the way its different stakeholders are using it will also be different. How will they leverage power? What opportunities and challenges arise? What will be the new status quo of modern business life?

Society is complex and with the current evolution of power taking place, our world is changing and its complexity increasing. The main pillars for building the highway towards a new market equilibrium will be based on transparency and balancing the level of power between all stakeholders of today’s society. Searching the chest of innovation we can find but one invention that has the potential to realize these pillars, and Blockchain is its name. Known for the technology behind cryptocurrencies it has gained worldwide attention. However, Blockchain is not just there for cryptocurrencies to rise, it also has the potential to be implemented throughout all aspects of society such as politics, logistics and healthcare. It has the ability to connect all stakeholders in the supply chain while giving them the same level of power. Some say Blockchain has the potential to replace contracts, banks and even governments, whereas others believe it is doomed to fail. One way or the other we will only find out whether or not it can live up to its promise by implementing this young controversial innovation. Leaving us with questions of what its full potential is?

We live in a world where one customer review can be viewed by a billion people, making or breaking companies overnight. Yet we also live in a world where changing the life of a single consumer can move industries to a new market equilibrium. Our grandparents grew up believing that consumers are loyal to the companies, however we, as Millennials, realize it is the consumer that holds the faith of a firm in their hands. We live in a world where the way value is delivered makes a tremendous difference in the minds of the consumer. The customer experience holds the key to success. But do we, as consumers, truly know what we need? As Henry Ford once said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said: faster horses.” If this quote still holds true and consumers really do not know what they want, can the power of consumers hinder the ability of firms to create groundbreaking innovations? Still, innovation is needed to win over the consumers of today, creating yet another paradox for businesses. To solve this paradox, walking the thin line of consumer satisfaction is the key. Leaving us with the questions of where does this shift in power end and how are businesses supposed to satisfy every single customer?

In this ever changing world one thing has always been certain: the top is our goal and we will climb the mountain of competition to get there. Companies fight to be the market leader and how they got there was of no importance. Money seemed to be the driving force behind everything, but not any longer. Society now expects firms to act as ethical institutions, taking the diversity and equality of their workforces into account. Firms are now altering their approach to human capital, creating equal opportunities for all. By introducing quotas firms attempt to reach these new standards of diversity. However, are these kind of instruments really the solution? With the potential to truly put biases of future employers into the past, innovations like ”talent analytics” arise. This technology combines humans and computers in evaluating potential managers, employees or trainees. Lowering the impact of our human subjectivity, it balances the power between employer and employee. Resulting in the need for everyone to differentiate themselves. How are we, as Millennials, presumed to act, considering the changing perceptions on diversity in businesses? And how will this evolution end?

Times are changing, where governments were once the ultimate power, companies might have taken over this role. Multinationals are experiencing monumental growth and this can no longer be constrained to one country. Technology has stretched the reach of the individuals and social media has expanded our network. Our opportunities have broadened and life has improved in many ways, mainly due to the progress of companies. If companies have the power to advance making societies thrive, what should be the role of governments? Therefore, one must wonder, are companies the new authority of tomorrow or are governments still in charge? We have seen in the past that innovations such as social media have played a crucial role in multiple elections, potentially causing the election of Donald Trump and Brexit to happen. ‘Fake News’ has plagued our news channels and tax regimes continue to be controversial in the eyes of the consumer. Through innovations, every individual has been given a voice, but it can be argued that these innovations are a threat to our democracy as well. Firms are responsible for incredible advancements. The reach of a company is sometimes even bigger than that of governments. So, should additional power come with additional responsibilities and should policy be influenced by business?

Themes Through the Years