Deloitte Insights

The Burdens of the Past

Report 4 in the 2013 Shift Index series

​While individuals are eagerly embracing new technologies for learning, creating, collaborating and sharing knowledge, the data suggests that outdated institutional structures continue to inhibit organizational knowledge flows. The result? Individuals gain more power, as talent and consumer, while companies face mounting performance pressures as they struggle to employ technology for growth, innovation, and sustained returns. This report includes updated data for the Shift Index metrics.

Read the 2013 Shift Index Series Foreword by Steve Denning.

The Big Shift Infographic

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Executive summary: The burdens of the past

Long-term trends help to tell a story. In the case of the 2013 Shift Index, the story features a puzzling discrepancy in technology adoption between individuals and organizations. In their personal lives, individuals are enthusiastically harnessing the power of rapid technological advances and the information flows they unleash. Why then do so many corporations and institutions seem unable to effectively embrace technological advances that speed up the flow of knowledge? 

That’s the critical question raised by the 2013 Shift Index, a set of measurements designed to complement the numerous indices tracking the short-term facts and figures of a rolling business cycle. Collectively, these metrics clearly show that we are in the early stages of an enormous transformation that we call the Big Shift. 

The continuing exponential improvement in the cost performance of core digital technologies is enabling new products and services to hit the market faster than ever. Individuals use these products in unexpected ways, resulting in fierce competition and a shift of power from institutions to individuals. 

In this fluid, competitive environment, a few institutions are creating new sources of value and discovering new ways to thrive.​


The Deloitte Center for the Edge developed the Shift Index to measure long-term changes to the business landscape. The Shift Index measures the magnitude and rate of change of today’s turbulent world by focusing on long-term trends, such as advances in digital infrastructure and the increasing significance of knowledge flows.

Our research applied a combination of established and original analytical approaches to pull together four decades of data, both preexisting and new. More than a dozen vendors and data sources were engaged, four surveys were developed and deployed, and five proprietary methodologies were created to compile 25 metrics into three indices representing 15 industries. Architects of current “gold standard” indices were consulted throughout the development process.

In compiling the Index, the Center identified and evaluated more metrics than could possibly be included. In some cases, the Center obtained metrics directly from vendors. In other cases, the Center leveraged existing studies and reproduced methodologies to construct metrics. Still others the Center constructed on its own.

Many of the metrics included in the Shift Index are proxies used to assess the concepts key to the Big Shift logic. Download the PDF to learn more about the Methodology.​



Shift Index Organizational Self-Assessment tutorial

Our 2013 Shift Index findings indicate that US firm performance has declined over the past four decades. In such an environment, organizations need the ability to adapt as rapidly as the world is changing around them, continuously learning from each challenge. Understand how well your organization is ready for the Big Shift by taking this 20-minute tutorial. 

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