New digital technologies put existing systems out of balance. Industry and market structures are changing and you and your organization need to adapt accordingly. Technologies have the potential to grow the economy and make society more equal and inclusive. At the same time, limiting regulations and innovation and adopting technology in some parts of the world but not others can all undermine these opportunities.
According to WEF, seven main technologies—artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, big data analytics and cloud, custom manufacturing and 3D printing, Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices, robots and drones, social media and platforms—are expected to have the most impact on the way we think about business.
Big Data, IoT, BYOD, Cloud, Drones, AI, VR - all of these digital technologies are transforming how businesses operate in the digital age. Businesses are changing at a rapid pace due to the impact of these technologies. Creating a digital business landscape is important for every company, regardless of size, and needed in order to stay competitive in the business world today.
Every January, the World Economic Forum (WEF) brings together 2,500 top business leaders, international political leaders, economists, and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world. In 2015, it identified one of those issues as digital transformation: how the lower cost and greater access to new technologies are redefining what customers expect, how businesses deliver products and services, and, as a result, how people live and work. And it launched its Digital Transformation Initiative, a study of 13 industries involving interviews with more than 300 executives. A report summarizing its findings makes an interesting starting point for our discussion.
Take some time to review the executive summary, especially the section on the five cross-industry themes.
Digital consumption explains how the rapidly changing expectations of digital customers are driving companies to reinvent themselves. The key ideas here are:
the transition from offering products and services to creating experiences. Consumers are looking for specific outcomes that enhance their satisfaction and their lives.
the focus on hyper-personalization. Consumers are looking to control and customize their products, services, and experiences; businesses are looking to provide these more relevant interactions by learning as much as possible about their customers.
the transition from ownership to shared access. Consumers are increasingly interested in having access to what they want, when they want it, without the costs associated with maintenance, storage, or downtime. The result is a growth in collaboration, which improves resource efficiency and unlocks value in underused assets.
Digital enterprise looks at how companies can rethink every aspect of their business to succeed in the digital era. The main points to consider are:
which strategy—build, buy, partner, invest, or incubate/accelerate (or a new model that doesn’t yet exist)—will yield the most effective digital business model for the company.
which operating model—customer-centric, extra frugal, data-powered, machine-driven, or open and liquid—will allow the business to remain quick and agile in the digital economy while best meeting customer needs and expectations.
which digital talent and skills—from employees to leadership to ways of working—will best prepare the company to compete in a fast-moving, ever-changing digital economy.
how to best use digital metrics— scale, active usage, and engagement—to measure and increase digital traction.
Platform economy focuses on how companies that work with other digitally enabled companies can achieve the scale, scope, and speed that lead to success in the digital era. The principal ideas are:
how this type of business-to-business collaboration and competition drives the companies involved to transform their organizational structures and business models to find greater value.
how this type of interdependent economy helps business ecosystems to expand by sharing the rewards among all participating companies.
how both industry and society benefit when companies work together to create value for customers and offer solutions to problems they could never have tackled alone.
Societal implications look at the impact these new digital business and operating models are having on society. The key areas of debate are:
whether digitization is creating or eliminating jobs.
whether digitization is adding to or reducing the environmental and social impacts of economic growth.
whether the increasing acquisition and use of personal data is making the digital economy more equitable or leading to an erosion of trust and a breach of ethical boundaries.
Unlocking digital value to society assesses quantitatively what impact digitization is having on businesses and on society. Two ideas are especially important:
The value-at-stake analysis quantifies the value added by new products and services and the value that will move from one area to another due to digitization between 2016 and 2025. It is equally a measure of the cost to industries, customers, society, and the environment that is at stake if the digital value is not unlocked.
The digital value to society (DVS) framework quantifies the impact of digitization on health and safety, employment, the environment, and customers over the same period. It includes measures such as lives saved, time saved, and jobs created.
The bottom line is that new technologies have the potential to grow the economy and make society more equal and inclusive. At the same time, limiting regulations and innovation and adopting technology in some parts of the world but not others can all undermine these opportunities. These are the questions all companies—and all individuals—face right now. The digital future is in our hands.