BCG History: 2011

Dealing with a Two-Speed World in the Digital Age

2011 was the year of the two-speed world. Developing economies continued their strong growth, and developed markets grew very slowly. As a result, many companies were looking to expand into emerging markets, while at the same time aggressive global challengers were building scale and taking advantage of new digital opportunities.

With an eye on these dynamics, BCG was taking a global view of developments in the business and economic landscapes. Our ongoing Collateral Damage content series continued to look at the major developments in the financial crisis, exploring the looming threat of debt restructuring, as well as the need to address the root causes of the crisis: global trade imbalances and massive debt loads. At the Worldwide Officers' Meeting in Miami, Daniel Stelter presented his latest views on the global economy, along with the keys to navigating the two-speed world in the coming years.

One phenomenon beginning to affect both high-growth and low-growth markets was the rise of the "digital economy." The mobile Internet was rapidly reshaping the consumer market around the world—making an impact similar to the one e-commerce had a decade earlier. And the explosion of social media, in particular, had already changed the relationship between company and consumer, leading to a need for completely new strategies in many industries.

With increasingly powerful tablets and smartphones influencing consumers' decisions every day, even "non-digital" businesses were forced to take notice. BCG examined how this new digital age would affect global marketing strategies, as well as the implications for the media industry, and the firm also established a dedicated Digital Economy practice area.

As change and volatility became the norm, BCG continued to look ahead—globally—to stay ahead of the curve.

BCG Insights & Highlights


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  • Protests throughout the year in the Arab world lead to revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and a civil war in Libya resulting in the fall of the government

  • A 9.1-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the east of Japan, killing 15,840 and leaving another 3,926 missing. This also leads to a disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

  • Great Britain's Prince William marries Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London

  • Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of Al-Qaeda, is killed during a U.S. military operation in Pakistan

  • The Space Shuttle Atlantis lands successfully at Kennedy Space Center to conclude NASA's shuttle program

  • In Thailand, more than 12.8 million people are affected by severe flooding, with damages estimated at $45 billion

  • The European Union agrees to tackle the sovereign debt crisis, including a write-down of 50 percent of Greek bonds, a recapitalization of European banks, and an increase of the bailout fund of the European Financial Stability Facility totaling €1 trillion

  • Kim Jong-Il, the leader of North Korea since 1994, dies of a heart attack

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