Fourth, and perhaps most important, business history shows that low-cost, high-volume business models eventually migrate across geographies and threaten traditional ways of doing business. (See “Format Invasions: Surviving Business's Least Understood Competitive Upheavals,” by Bertrand Shelton, Thomas Hansson, and Nicholas Hodson, s+b, Fall 2005.) Companies serving U.S. and European markets should take note. Twenty years ago, superior Japanese business models in machine tools, photocopiers, and automobiles overwhelmed American manufacturers. How many bottom-of-the-pyramid business models will restructure American and European industries over the next 20 years?
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, while sometimes tedious to read, is nevertheless an exciting expose of the power of markets to improve people’s lives. But it is more than that: It is a rare glimpse into the future — for those with eyes to see — of the extraordinary opportunities waiting in uncharted and seemingly impassable waters.
Chuck Lucier (email@example.com) is senior vice president emeritus of Booz Allen Hamilton. He is currently writing a book and consulting on strategy issues with selected clients. For Mr. Lucier’s latest publications, see www.chucklucier.com.
Jan Dyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) spent 11 years at Booz Allen Hamilton working with corporations in a variety of industries. She is currently working independently.