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The Digital Infrastructure Will Likely Increase the Frequency and Scope of Social Volatility

The Shift Index

For further context and insight on this topic, please reference the following sections of the 2011 Shift Index report:

Key Themes
The notion of empowering individuals through knowledge transfer is significant and seductive. In a world where consumers can widely disseminate knowledge and choose their preferred means for acquiring goods and services (buying, renting and borrowing), end-users can push back on firms, forcing them to be more transparent, to price competitively and to engage in dialogue with their customers. While these are positive outcomes of the digital infrastructure, society is experiencing growing pains along the way; today’s increasingly inverted pyramid of power is driving greater volatility in the economic, social and political arenas as hyper-connected individuals tap into increased flows of knowledge.

The power of individuals to create market disruptions has been put into sharp relief by the global recession. With greater access to information, both factual and questionable, an already fearful and reactive public is causing significant and oftentimes unanticipated shifts in economic activity. However, this volatility is not just a side effect of a poor economic climate; it is an outcome of long-term changes brought about by the Big Shift.

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Social Media Activity
Society has embraced social media as a means of expression and a creative outlet, while technological advancements have allowed social media platforms to serve as catalysts for open innovation. The use of social media will continue to be driven by societal as well as technological changes. The increasing amount of time spent on social media as a percentage of time spent on the Internet reflects how the World Wide Web is evolving into a network of people as much as a network of information. This network is changing how people connect and interact with one another, blurring the lines between personal and professional and forcing business leaders to rethink how best to engage employees and consumers.

Consumption of social media has exploded in the past few years. The average number of daily visitors on social networking sites doubled from 46M per month in 2007 to nearly 90M per month in 2011. Similarly, the total minutes spent by U.S. users on social networking sites grew 236% from 25B in 2007 to 59B in 2011.

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