Category Archives: Leadership

Digital Economy Series: “Our current experience”

Tech and GlobeStarting out

Let’s explore the digital economy that we currently experience.

Consider how ubiquitous digital technology is in our daily retail transactions. In recent times, for example, I was on a consulting assignment to a far-flung Pacific Island. During my time there I enjoyed a latte at a cafe. The ease at which I paid for my beverage with a Travel Visa card through an electronic terminal at this very remote establishment is a wonder of modern technology.

Years ago this story would have been much different. One element of this story is the planning for this prosaic first world transaction. The planning would have included making sure I had enough local currency by interacting with people at banking outlet during opening hours! No doubt you have similar stories to this.

Consider too, the actual things that we purchase. No longer common, for example, is the youthful experience of excitedly carrying home the latest 12 inch vinyl disk. Now, we enter into some form of electronic agreement to gain access to artists that please our ears.

I could go on. But, wherever we are on Earth and whatever sector we can think of, we intuitively grasp that so much of today’s economy, so much of what is produced, traded, and consumed, has digital written all over it.

Defining the digital economy

So, what is the digital economy? Building on the foundational understanding that an economy is comprised of the production of, the trade in, and the use of goods and services, we can add digitisation to each of these three factors. For example, the digitisation of labour, of transactions, of decisions, and of value. The list goes on. As Negroponte put it in the mid-90’s, it’s a shift from the “processing of atoms to the processing of bits”.

The Australian Government defines the digital economy as “economic and social activities that information and communication technologies deliver”. Forbes refers to Don Tapscott’s prescient 1995 best seller, “The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence” as not only the birth of the phrase “Digital Economy” but also as a guide to how the internet would change business.

To what degree is the economy digitised?

Various estimates put the value of the digital economy at about $5 trillion (USD). Considering that the global economy as a whole is worth more than $80 trillion and that this growth in the digital economy is from a standing start twenty years ago, what we are witnessing is no doubt historically significant (some would say revolutionary).

Where the components of this phenomena include, for example, ICT hardware software and services at over $3 trillion (the enablers of this revolution) and electronic games at over $100 Billion (its fruits). And where for some countries, up to 10% of their GDP relies upon the ICT sector (its importance).

Where the impact of this phenomena is witnessed in the speed at which companies of scale are built Harley Davidson took 86 years to get to a billion dollar valuation, Twitter just 3 years), in the ease at which we can find answers to almost any question (40,000 Google queries per second), and in the explosion of data (90% of the world’s new data is only 2 years old).

To what degree can the economy be digitised?

The journey over this series of articles is one of exploration and prospection. Both discovering the pervasiveness of digitisation of our economy and contemplating that which could appear.

A journey that is supported by two purposes. The first: reflections upon the opportunities and costs of a fully digital economy at personal, business and government levels. The second: considerations of contemporary economic themes using the lenses of established strategic foresight models.

A journey with a vista of the world that today’s teenagers will experience during their middle years.

A journey that will be worthwhile.

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Thinking Skills Are In

Well. In observing what is happening in the world of work you may have noticed that the job market is changing.

Blog - Thinking Skills
All the talk, and a lot of articles and research are pointing to the declining demand for people to fill routine manual and routine cognitive jobs.

Remember, though, it has always been this way. The job market is forever changing. For example, there wasn’t as much demand for social media marketing experts and big data scientists in the 1970’s as there is today!

And that brings me to my point – one of the skills that will experience increasing demand is the ability to think. The ability to think in systems, to think critically, to think creatively and laterally. That ability to use our cognitive capacity in non-routine ways.

Consider our unique human abilities when it comes to using our brain: we can dream up new products, we can gain unique insights into health-related areas, we can discover new ways of building things and we can create poetry, music and art. And on it goes.

The ability to think is a skill that is worth developing and a critical component of creating a “future-proof” career.

 

For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, review my IT Strategy blog, subscribe to my YouTube channel, or buy my ‘Jobs. Future. You.’ workbook.

Preparing for the change that you know is coming.

One of the constants in life, as the 5th Century BC Greek philosopher Heroclitus opined, is change. While this paraphrase of his “no man can step into the same river twice” maxim was true in his day, it is ever more relevant in 2017.

Reflect on some of the change that we have witnessed over the last few decades: the ubiquity of social media, the power of computing that we carry around with us and the cost-effectiveness of DNA testing. We’ve seen the rise of self checkouts and driverless cars. It seems we can make anything we like with 3D printers.

All of these improvements and new ways of doing things. These inventions and innovations that are impacting organisations of all types.

Whether this impact is felt in the way staff approach their job, or the speed at which new competitors arise, or the way technology can bring improvements to your business. Your organisation will continue to be affected by what is going on around you.

So, how do you prepare for what may lie ahead? How do you ensure long term success.

How do you see the risks and opportunities that lie over the horizon.

And how do you prepare yourself to either mitigate these risks or to exploit the opportunities?

In two words – use strategic thinking.

Rather than using standard strategic planning or business planning you need to dig deeper to see what is really happening.

Rather than using environmental scanning or SWOT analysis to see what is happening around you, you need to ask questions about why the change is happening.

And its called strategic thinking for a reason, because it involves thinking!

Consider say cloud computing. All of your competitors and others that you know are shifting to using these platforms. Why?

A simple answer would be that it is cheaper. It is more efficient to just buy the software to run the business rather than all the computers and staff that are needed to run the software.

But dig deeper to find a more profound answer. Ask yourself some questions about the drivers of change.

And these “drivers of change” questions about, in this case, cloud computing, may well lead to the following:

  • Is it because cloud computing can be more responsive to helping businesses respond to competitive pressures?
  • Are competitive pressures mounting because products can be brought to market quicker?
  • Can products be brought to market quicker because of more efficient market research mechanisms?

Taking that last question about efficient market feedback, what risks and opportunities are there for you?

Do you have personnel risks – that you don’t have the right people to implement the market feedback you get?

Do you have systems risks – that you don’t have the right processes in place to gather timely market feedback?

Do you have R&D risks- that you don’t have a culture that embraces innovation and bringing to market new products?

Strategic thinking is the new game in town.

Through strategic thinking you can discover, and prepare for, the risks and opportunities that are over the horizon.

 

For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my IT Strategy blog, or subscribe to my YouTube channel.