Category Archives: Scenario Planninng

Digital Economy Series: “Is there only an upside to your life, your job, your community in a digital economy?”

Tomorrow’s teenage grandchildren

Just like those in their retirement years today have witnessed so much change since their teenage years, so will today’s teenagers when they reach their autumn years and help raise teenage grandchildren.

For those currently in the latter seasons of life, what have they witnessed over the course of their adult dyf - future possibilityyears? Consider the geopolitical tensions pushing history to unfold in uncertain directions (ie. Cuban missile crisis), the scientific developments ushering in hope (penicillin) and despair (nuclear fission), and popular music performers swaying the life choices of fans across the globe (Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix) are among the many changes witnessed.

 We now know how all of this unfolded, for it is today’s lived reality. Looking back over these decades we view this historical path as the “business as usual” path. The scenario that happened and that we now experience, study and use as reference points for what may happen in the decades ahead.

 But what of other possibilities, of other scenarios, of other ways that things could work out. Just like our current reality could have turned out differently, what paths could history take for today’s teenagers? Specifically, what could unfold in our context of focus – the digital economy.

 Its relatively easy to imagine one scenario – the business as usual path. For example, in 50 years time (ie, the lived experience of the teenage grandchildren of today’s teenagers) and based on what we know now, it is conceivable that consumer purchases will all be cashless and will involve automated delivery technology, and that all business transactions will use blockchain technology for goods and services prioritised by company-wide artificial intelligence algorithms?

How could things turn out?

But what about other scenarios? Will the history of the digital economy unfold such that there will only be an upside for your life, your job and your community? Where machines and robots undertake the work we don’t want to do, provide for our needs effectively and facilitate the richness of humanity’s many bonds and opportunities?

Imagine, then, a scenario unfolding where everything is restricted, or perhaps a scenario where anarchy rules.

First, restriction. Today we live with our social media feed being individually unique. No one else on the planet has exactly the social media friends and followers as I. Likewise with the configuration of ads I see in my browser; they are unique to me. And what about my purchase history where I shop with loyalty cards. This too is unique to me, as are the offers I receive. Why not then, in the time ahead, only seeing on my screen the things I am interested in? Only being shown political messages that will resonate with me, only being offered membership to social groups aligned with my past experiences and interests.

 A scenario where the lives we live have boundaries that can not be altered. Where a superficial peace is the dominant mood.

Second, the anarchy scenario. Today there are forces that seek to upend the order that liberal democracy has brought to bear upon hundreds of millions of people across our world. What if they succeed? What if the internet is technically re-architected into ideologically walled gardens, that the Global Currency – the US Dollar – is replaced by the Chinese Renminbi, the German Mark and the Brazilian Real, and that the bounds of ordinary life are limited to self-contained urban zones each with different digital capabilities and intents.

 A scenario where social and business life is dissimilar across the many enclaves, in which tension is a common theme.

With business as usual, life retains its complexity; with restriction it is hollow; as for anarchy it is wearying.

The future is not set

As outlined above, an AI-rich digital economy that supports quality of life is a likely outcome of the business as usual path. But what of the other two scenarios under consideration? For the consumer, the restriction path implies only uniquely tailored goods and services. Similarly for business. Where success is tied to this unique tailoring, implying that prospects for innovation are limited by the scope of these personalising algorithms.

 With respect to the dystopian scenario, some enclaves no doubt will have the economic resources to realise a business as usual outcome, but most are likely to be unrecognisable societies by today’s standards. And so, due to resource scarcity, lack of trust, and through the application of technical digital capabilities built up over decades, local oligopolies reign supreme with deep surveillance and intense social stratification core characteristics of each society.

 Understand that the future is not set. History indeed can unfold along one of these three paths. To our question at the start, the answer then is no. We are not assured of beneficial outcomes for our life, our jobs, our community in a digital economy.

 


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.

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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.

There is change between now and the future – how do you view them both?

Given that we’ll experience the same amount of new inventions and technological change over the next 25 years that we have experienced over the last 75 years, how will your business be affected?

Secondly, given that the volume and value of international trade has consistently accelerated since the early 1950’s, how will our economy be affected?

And given that some of the highest value jobs on the market were not around 10 years ago, how will your career be affected?

Given these things, can we really say that the future is a far off time? Firstly, can we approach our business, including our customers, suppliers and the competition the same as we always have? Secondly, what about the economy? How will the global changes that we are seeing affect us? For example, look to at the trends in China’s economic growth or even reflect upon how the current events across Europe will play out. The question is how will these global changes impact the local markets in which we trade and the social environment in which we live? And finally, what about our jobs, the career we are planning on having?

Yes there are risks. But there are also opportunities. We can look at the glass half empty, or we can see it as half full (as an aside, some wags suggest that the glass is twice as big as it needs to be!).

So, we should be planning for these possibilities. We should be considering the social and economic trends that will be affecting us. We should be weighing up the risks and opportunities afforded by new technologies, by new ways of doing things.

We should be considering the future through more than “business as usual” lens.

Would you consider viewing the future through a dystopian lens or a utopian lens. What about using a lens of greater regulation and discipline?

For the question is: through what lens do you see the future?

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