Information technology (IT) will play the decisive role in a worldwide economic shift that will see the developing world wrest global dominance away from the developed West, according to self-procliamed futurist and Megatrends author, John Naisbitt.
Naisbitt, who delivered his keynote presentation at the CeBIT business technology convention in Sydney today, said that the role IT is already playing in the emergence of online education would be the single most important driver in a transformation that will see the world's developing regions overtake the developed world's economic dominance.
"We're in the transition between what we call the Western-centric world and a multi-centric world," said Naisbitt. "And we could all benefit from this. Of all industries, IT will be able to leverage the most influence in this new unfolding.
"The developing world will economically outperform the West as we move into the 21st century and to a world of cities. The most important drivers of growth are economics and education. In all of these developments IT will play the most decisive role," he said.
For Naisbitt, whose forthcoming book The Great Opening Up discusses this global economic shift, the rapidly growing IT-driven online education industry is set to enable what he calls the 'global southern belt' of developing regions incorporating Asia, Africa and Latin America to dramatically increase its middle-class populations and affect the global economic shift.
"For any government in the world, education has to be the number one economic priority. We're facilitated by IT with education. In many developed countries higher education has become much harder to afford and IT has delivered the solution with online education," said Naisbitt.
"The president of MIT calls online higher education the most important invention since the printing press. Now, MIT posts virtually all of its university courses online for free and has attracted 150 million learners worldwide. That's only one online education program and there are many others. It is the driver in developing this global middle class," he said.
According to Naisbitt and his wife, Doris, who shared the keynote duties at the event, this online education-driven growth of the middle classes in developing regions around the globe will see more billion dollar companies emerge from those regions.
"In the next decade, the growing middle class will increase the demand for consumer goods and services and lead to another 7000 companies in the billion dollar range, with 70 percent of these new companies based in these emerging markets," said Doris Naisbitt.
"I think we can safely say that, today, IT is the main driver of progress of our time," she said.