This paper addresses the changing nature of markets in an IT-rich and Internet connected world. Through a combination of case studies, theoretical analysis and parallels between issues in developed and emerging worlds, it explores whether technology can help create economic futures that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable for the emergent economies and also offer fresh directions for the culturally homogenised and resource wasteful west. The paper suggests that IT radically changes the ‘ground rules’ compared with the periods of intense development in western countries in the 19th and 20th centuries. In particular, IT opens the way for less centralised growth, where global communications enable local collaboration, and those at the bottom of the economic pyramid can have presence on the world stage. However, realising the potential of IT to aid sustainability may require strategic efforts to create suitable information and economic infrastructures.