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Digital revolution: as fundamental as the industrial revolution of 1760

  • Posted on February 18, 2015

Digital RevolutionAs we were thinking about and writing the themes of our Technology Vision for 2015, it occurred to me that chances are in 100 years’ time, historians will be talking about a Digital Revolution, which started around 2010 - 2020. Maybe it’s an exaggeration, but personally, I find the analogy to the 1760 - 1820 Industrial Revolution fascinating: industries are being reshaped in terms of definition and value of output, production, competition and employment. Vast wealth is being generated, redistributed and reinvested. The economic and social rules are being rewritten.

Yes, there is an element of hype and irrational exuberance. Yes, there may be some bubbles along the way, but personally, I believe we’re now past an inflection point where software, data and connected things are starting to have such a fundamental impact on the civic society that they can be comparable to the effect of steam power, metallurgy, chemicals, and so on that were developed between 1760 - 1820.  My children will probably never learn to drive a car and their profession may not yet have been invented. Their definition of work and money will be very different from mine. A taxi, a hotel, a store, a bank, a hospital, a house, a workplace, and a city will have different compositions.

Our technology vision is just looking a couple of years into the future, but it still forced us to challenge things we take for granted:

  • Control may feel safe, but safe is dangerous, and a new class of collaborative company ecosystems – powered by technology platforms - are challenging the notions of control and power.
  • Winners are not using data for insight, they are using it to give their customers what they really want – more meaningful outcomes, not more products and services.
  • It is no longer enough to be customer-centric. The key is to be individual-centric and to cater to the needs, wants and intentions of the individual.
  • The next generation of talent is not only human. It will be the dream team of humans and digital apprentices powered by data, algorithms and intelligent software.

I cannot predict how the world will look like in 2050 anymore than the industrial pioneers could foresee what the 20th century have evolved to be. But I’m certain that it will be fundamentally different and I’m quite optimistic that the change will be for the better.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading our take on the next few years and would welcome to hear what you think.

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