When I was a young man with hair on my forehead and could fit slim pants (those were the days), studying economics, I was quite fascinated with Kondratieff Wave theory. Describing economics as long term waves made a good visualization. Since a Kondratieff Wave is a long-term economic cycle believed to result from technological innovation and thereby produce a long period of prosperity, the digital transformation should be able to cause such a wave. If this is the case or not, I dare not to say.
However, when one does a bit of reverse engineering and one looks at the technological breakthroughs made so far in this new of age of artificial slaves and friends to make our life easier, more fun and improve already existing processes, one is not left with the impression that we are riding on top of a wave – yet.
So let us take a more pragmatic approach to the digital transformation:
Think of the digital transformation as a balloon. The air inside of the balloon is the knowledge and methods used to day. The results of this can be divided into two main categories: Entertainment and improvement. Generally, these tend to be linear extensions of what is already known. From a board game, to a screen game to a VR game. From a man to robot.
The surface of the balloon is the uncertainties that we know exist but that we do not yet have all the answers to and technology for. A large portion of this surface is the compliance and ethics of the digital transformation.
In the orbit of the balloon are all the things the new technology will provide (good and bad) and that we cannot comprehend or foresee. Anyone who just saw the internet as an extension of newspaper and magazines, were obviously wrong. Companies which only concentrate on the air inside the balloon will be heavily disadvantaged. Where the internet revolution was about your brand and customer interface and other marketing stuff, this revolution will in some way impact the core product of any company.
Further away from the balloon is the real revolution. This is where society standards are fundamentally changed as result of technology or methodology breakthroughs. They may not come in terms of big innovations with a foreseeable outcome. Like the use of filtered water for drinking and washing drastically increased health allowing workers to live and work longer and leave money for the next generation, we may not at first see the full potential.
If I had the ability to foresee anything outside the balloon, I would be happy to share it. Right know I decided to concentrate my efforts on understanding the surface of the balloon. Building a comprehensive strategy to stay on top of ethics and compliance of the digital transformation, will help me ride the other waves, or at least help me detect when they are coming, in whatever form that may be. Early detection of market changes has never been more important. So putting your mind (or an AI mind) to abstract the unknown is what may soon define your core business skills – and perhaps you very business existence.
– “While on lookout for wolfs, we were attacked by sheep.”