Climate change, an impending fossil fuel crisis and shifting social norms are all driving a change in the way companies should be doing business if they plan to be around in the next 20 years.
Indeed, people and organisations that don't start looking for fundamentally different ways of doing things could face extinction within just a few short years.
And IT will play a crucial role in helping them to transition to new models that will allow mankind to enjoy a similar level of civilisation to what we do today,
This dire warning comes from Simon Perry, MD of UK-based consulting company ThinkingString, addressing today's Identity Management conference in Johannesburg.
Perry believes the world is close to a tipping point in terms of fuel consumption and climate change and that C-level executives are starting to recognise the patterns and make strategic changes within their organisations.
On a tactical level, he says, "green" IT is beginning to become the norm, with companies looking for assurances that the computers they buy not only consume less power, but and manufactured, transported and disposed of in a way that doesn't harm the environment.
Re-use of the heat generated by computer rooms is now also becoming a regular discussion, he adds, which has environmental implications.
It's on the strategic level, however, that companies are starting to make a dramatic shift.
Organisation are looking to IT to help support the shift they need to make in the next few years.
The change in the way companies do business involves a shift to a decentralised office environment, with many remote workers – possibly as much as 90% of workers will be online as opposed to in an office, Perry believes.
From a communications point of view, IT will have to ensure that these workers are able to connect and work seamlessly.
In addition, there are security implications too, with the de-perimieterisation of the network.
While there is still a hard core of people who scoff at the idea of climate change and a fundamental shift in society, Perry says they are rapidly becoming the minority.
The worlds of politics, religion and now business are all taking the concept seriously and realising that change needs to happen in the next few years, says Perry.
"IT's actually not even about being green," Perry says. "It's about sustainability. And if you want your business to be around in 20 years time, you've got to look at sustainability."
* Having visited South Africa a number of times over the last few years, Perry assured delegates that he won't be making the trip again – as part of his contribution to saving on fossil fuels and preventing climate change.