The world has changed dramatically since 1963. Indeed, over the last fifty years, almost every facet of our day to day lives has changed beyond almost all recognition. From the moment you wake up (thanks to the alarm on your smart phone), to what you eat for breakfast, how you travel to work, the office environment, communications, digital information sources and computer technology, through to the entertainment you enjoy in the evening, almost everything is different.
Beyond these practical changes, there have been profound developments in personal wealth, healthcare standards and the type of holidays people enjoy. The internet has brought instantaneous translation of many different languages, we have real time global communication and payment systems, and the average person in many countries now has the economic ability and political possibility to travel to almost any country in the world.
As Professor David Suzuki highlighted in one of his recent lectures, the main driver of all this has not been inspired government policy, nor has it been wise investment in innovation by the corporate sector. Rather it has been the power of innovation in science and technology. This has driven profound change, and the pace of this change will only continue to accelerate in the years ahead.
Whilst this sounds exciting, it also brings with it many challenges - not least because most businesses, especially big businesses, hate change. They greatly prefer the status quo, and making small, incremental changes to strategy in order to preserve their market leadership positions. So I say this: "Innovate or die!". Too many of the world's great companies have favoured the status quo, which lurks like a benign cancer just under the skin of the complacent corporation. One day they wake up to discover that the cancer has turned malignant whilst they were asleep, and the best they can hope for is that drastic surgery will extent their corporate life expectancy by a few years.
If this sounds like a brutal analogy, it is meant to be. Nokia had a market value of some $100 billion barely a decade ago - it has just sold its core mobile device business to Microsoft for a lot less than $10bn, one of the greatest corporate value disasters of the post war era.
By far the most powerful force to shape the world over the last fifty to one hundred years has not been politics, nor has it been business. Science has changed nearly every aspect of people's lives, and will continue to do so...