Last week I discovered, courtesy of a post by Irving Wladawsky-Berger on his weblog, the recent research report The Shift Index. I downloaded both the entire research report, as well as the abstract. I then went back and dug out my July-August issue of Harvard Business Review which has an overview of the Shift Index. I believe that this is important research that deserves to be widely read and discussed.
The Shift Index research was developed under the auspices of Deloitte's Center for the Edge. The effort was led by John Hagel and John Seely Brown, two very respected thought leaders.
What's the Shift Index about? Here's Irving Wladawsky-Berger's summary:
As we all know, digital technologies are causing long-term transformations in the global business environment. The team at the Center for the Edge has been studying these long-term business transformation, which they named the Big Shift . They have been trying to render explicit some of the major drivers behind this historical transformation, as well as providing an overall framework for research on the subject.
Here's John Hagel's take on what sparked the research project...
... everyone acknowledges that we are in the midst of a fundamental shift playing out on the business landscape on a global scale over many decades. We may not all agree on the exact dimensions of the big shift, but the reality is so widely recognized that it is often unstated. When we looked for indices that gave us some insight into the nature and pace of this big shift, we pretty much came up drive [dry?]. There were isolated measures and one-off analyses, but there was nothing resembling a comprehensive index of key metrics updated on a regular basis.
So we decided to develop one. We had a team work for about six months developing the conceptual framework for describing the dimensions of the big shift and how these dimensions related to each other. We then spent the next six months working to define the specific metrics for a Shift Index and collect and analyze the data related to these metrics.
This research strikes me as very meaningful. It's complex, and multi-faceted, work of significant depth, even at this very early stage of development. I believe the work has many implications.
I am particularly struck by the predictive implications of the research as it relates to entrepreneurship and public policy. I'll post more on the subject here later.
I suggest starting with either the abstract of the full report or the Harvard Business Review article, which is a somewhat abridged version of the abstract.
The full Shift Index report can be downloaded here.
The abstract can be downloaded from co-author John Seely Brown's website.