When you call your consulting firm ‘Hybrid Reality’, you give yourself permission to bend people’s minds for a living. Which is what Parag Khanna did when he told a packed room at Social Matters Hong Kong that the passport you carry is no longer an accurate representation of who you are.
Today, 1 out of every 16 people in the world are residents of country different to the one they were born in. Or, as Khanna dubs them, ‘citizens of the Independent republic of the Supply Chain’ – people who have used their skills and education to join companies which then leverage their infrastructure and resources to re-allocate talent, geographically, according to purely economic criteria.
And you thought it was just about getting a better job. Nope, what you are doing, it seems, is trading in the limited functionality of your passport for the virtually unlimited mobility that comes from joining large, global firms with the resources to relocate you as long as you learn the Google national anthem.
Khanna brought this mind-bender back to the room of marketers by telling them that an individual’s employer might be a much better indicator of who they are (and what they might want to buy), than an individual’s nationality. So, goodbye census data, hello LinkedIn profile.
He then zoomed in from the country level to look at emerging urban corridors – places where several large cities are sprawling and joining up, such as the pearl River Delta in Southern China – and then further into the recent phenomenon of ‘Melting Pot’ cities. These large cities have more than 35% of the population ‘foreign born’ (Dubai was top of the list, Singapore and New York also made the cut), and their stability relies on abandoning the idea of nationality as a key source of identity. Perhaps your username will be the replacement.