At the Annual Meeting of the New Champions today, I met world leaders on the sidelines and participated in some of their sessions. It was indeed fascinating to see, hear and learn about the various facets that will shape our economic future.

In my mind, the greatest game changer will be the rise of Generation C (or Gen C).

Gen C is the next generation that will be coming into its own over the next decade. As a rule, members of this generation were born after 1990 and lived their adolescent years after 2000. In the developed world, Gen C encompasses everyone in this age group; in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), they are primarily urban and suburban. By 2020, they will make up 40% of the population in the US, Europe and the BRIC countries, and 10% of the rest of the world – and by then, they will constitute the largest single cohort of consumers worldwide.

This generation needs to be creative yet in control of, in charge of and master of its own destiny. As consumers, they happily have increasing control over what they buy and who they buy it from. They are fearless and entertain the thought of being a celebrity like almost everyone, but what has changed is that their waiting time to get the proverbial 15 minutes of fame is shorter and their moment of glory longer, as this generation is fully enabled to produce, display and then distribute to millions their own images, creations and content.

Gen C will use communications technology not only to gather and consume information, but also to interact and throw open “global dialogues”. These effects will be determined in part by the progress of technologies over the course of the current decade. Latest consumer behaviour studies reveal and confirm that these trends are real and are reshaping. Being connected on a 24/7 basis will be the norm by 2020. Currently, there are 4.6 billion mobile users and 1.7 billion Internet users globally. Among younger Europeans, 52% already feel that they are disconnected with the world if they do not have access to their mobile phone, and 91% of mobile users keep their phone less than a meter away, whether awake or sleeping. It is forecasted that by 2020, there will be 6 billion mobile users and the number of people accessing the Internet will have exceeded 4.7 billion – primarily through mobile devices.

On to the qualitative – the social minds, thanks to the pervasive popularity and performance of social networks, will enable more users to jump into voice channels, online groups, blogs and other electronic messages, where the size and diversity of networks would warrant a new thinking and approach. The more central to the economy and society such processes are, the more their impact will be felt beyond projects and have the desired economic effect. “Produsage” has extended way beyond its earlier successes in open source software and collaborative knowledge management; it has come to affect culture and triggered a convergence culture.

I await the day with a lot of anticipation, and look forward to determining how we may address them with our readiness for the Gen C.

Author: Rohit Gandhi is Senior Vice-President (Asia-Pacific, India, Middle East & Africa) of Mahindra Satyam. He has rebuilt the organization, turning it into a profitable, high-growth and high-energy engine poised for significant growth. Rohit speaks regularly at conferences including the World Knowledge Forum.

Picture: REUTERS/POOL New