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The exponential digital social world

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Digital disruption affects every organisation in the world. Even successful and iconic 20th century businesses must transform to remain relevant and retain their leadership in the 21st century.

In our latest white paper, The Exponential Digital Social World, key disruptive technologies are unpacked, with relevant examples of their impact in different sectors. The strategic assets and capabilities an organisation needs, in bridging from analogue to digital worlds, are outlined. Essential to this shift is imbuing an outside-in, stakeholder-centric mindset and blending analogue assets and experience with a born digital start-up culture. Finally, a transformational approach is sketched out – one that is agile, holistic, and based on logical transitions that can be dialled up or down.

Executive summary

Tech-savvy start-ups with natively digital business models regard this point in time as the best time in the history of the world to invent something. The world is buzzing with technology-driven opportunities leveraging the solid platform provided over the past 30 years, birthed from the Internet, then mobility, social, and now the massive scale of cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT).

For the start-up community, this is a platform for invention, coupled with lowered/disrupted barriers, access to venture capital, better risk/benefit ratios and higher returns through organisational agility. Kevin Kelly, co-founder of WIRED magazine, believes we’re poised to create truly great things and that what’s coming is exponentially different, beyond what we envisage today – ‘Today truly is a wide open frontier. We are all becoming. It is the best time ever in human history to begin’ (June 2016).

Throughout history, there have been major economic and societal shifts and the revolutionary nature of these is only apparent retrospectively – at the time the changes were experienced as linear and evolutionary. But now is different. Information access is globalised and is seen as a democratic right for consumers in the developed world and a human right for the less advantaged. The genesis was the Internet and the scale is now exponential because cloud-based platforms embed connections between data, people, and things into the very fabric of business and daily life. Economies are information and services-based and knowledge is a valued currency. This plays out at a global, regional, community, and household level. Proactive leaders of governments, businesses, and communities addressing these trends stress the need for innovation and transformative change (vs incremental) to shape future economies and societies across the next few years.

Evolving into a ‘super smart society’

In a far-reaching example of transformative vision and action, Japan is undertaking ‘Society 5.0’, a full national transformation strategy including policy, national digitisation projects, and deep cultural changes. Society 5.0 sits atop a model of five waves of societal evolution to a ‘super smart society’.

The ultimate state (5.0) is achieved through applying technological advancements to enrich the opportunities, knowledge, and quality of life for people of all ages and abilities.

The Society 5.0 collaboration goes further than the digitisation of individual businesses and the economy, it includes all levels of the Japanese society, and the transformation of society itself. Society 5.0 is a framework to tackle several macro challenges that are amplified in Japan, such as an ageing population – today, 26.3% of the Japanese population is over 65, for the rest of the world, 20% of people will be over 60 by 2020. Japan is responding through the digitisation of healthcare systems and solutions. The increased mobility and flexibility of work to keep people engaged in meaningful employment, and the digitisation of social infrastructure across communities and into homes.

This journey is paved with important technology enabled advances, such as IoT, robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, big data analytics and the integration of cyber and physical systems.

Japan’s transformation approach is about more than embracing digital, it navigates the perfect storm of technology change and profound changes in culture, society, and business models.

Globally, four convergent forces are shaping the fabric of 21st century life:

  • the digital social world – engaging meaningfully with people matters, not merely transacting
  • generational tipping point – millennials now have the numbers as consumers and workers, their value systems and ways of doing and being are profoundly different
  • business models – your value chain is no longer linear, you are becoming either an ecosystem platform or a player/supplier into that ecosystem
  • digital is ubiquitous – like particles in the atmosphere, digital is all around us, connecting people, data and things – it’s the essence of 21st century endeavours

How do leaders of our iconic, successful industrial age organisations view this landscape?

Leaders across organisations, governments, and communities are alert to the opportunities and threats from an always-on economy. Not all leaders are confident they have a cohesive strategy and the right resources to execute a transformative plan for success in this new economy of knowledge, digital systems, and the associated intangible assets – the digital social age.

RocketSpace, a global ecosystem providing a network of campuses for start-up acceleration, estimates that 10 years from now, in 2027, 75% of today’s S&P 500 will be replaced by digital start-ups (RocketSpace Disruption Brief, March 2017).

Even accounting for some potential skew in this estimate, we are in the midst of unprecedented change.

For more detail on how your business can leverage the opportunities of digital disruption, download the full executive summary and the white paper by clicking below.

Download the executive summary

Download the white paper
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