Digital connectivity permeates all aspects of daily life – from the way people interact to the economic landscape, political decision-making and the skills needed to get a job. A greater reliance on networked resources makes people more interdependent, while many stakeholders are concerned about whether the industry can strike the right balance between privacy, security and trust.

At the same time, increasing digitization is driving industries from product-based to service-based offerings. While these offerings are highly automated and standardized, they are also personalized through software. The seamless integration of the physical and digital worlds through networked sensors, actuators, embedded hardware and software will change industrial models.

In short, the world is about to experience an exponential rate of change through the rise of software and services.

The mandate of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software & Society is to help society navigate the impacts of the shifts to come.

Building on this mandate, the council aims to help the broader society navigate the transition to the future digital and hyperconnected world by explaining the societal impacts generated by major technology trends and the new business models in plain language, and through engaging, accessible media.

This report is the first of its kind – one aimed at trying to capture some of the deep shifts occurring in society as a result of software and services, and to encourage everyone to think about the impact of these changes on our society and how to prepare for the changes ahead.