That the Internet, digitisation and digitalisation have changed the way people live and do business is old news. Those changes won’t stop.
To clarify, the differences between digitalisation and digitisation: digitisation is the process of converting information into a digital format, whilst digitalisation is the way many areas of social life are restructured around digital communication and media.
The big question mark giving business leaders headaches and sleepless nights is how these changes will evolve. As things progress, the impact on businesses and society and the implications for the planet change too.
We know that the future is uncertain. This is why businesses always need to stay on the edge. Walking the path between stasis and forward momentum allows businesses to avoid complacency.
Digitalisation makes sticking to a business strategy much harder. In the blink of an eye, all success can vanish because of a new digital innovation that seems to have miraculously popped up overnight. Digitalisation innovates entire systems, not only a product or service.
In an article for Forbes, Rich Karlgaard compares digital technology to a Death Star. At first, it pulls a company into its orbit and wipes out the old and well-established business model. Its next step is to force the business to adapt to the new digital environment laws of the game. Not just once, but over and over again. These “orbits” are unpredictable and can change societies in ways we can’t even imagine. Digitalisation and technology affect all aspects of our daily lives and are not only related to one area. They range from nanotechnology to 3D printing and all the interplay between. The combination of all these makes digitalisation an unstoppable force.
Most businesses are aware of the constant need to adapt to digitalisation and its changes but few realise how little time they have to do so.
The pace of digitalization is increasing exponentially. However, due to the – mostly useful, but in this case, not so much – inherent survival instinct, people think in linear growth.
To highlight the exponential growth and speed of those changes, just think back 10 years and see how much the world has changed.
10 years ago, I bought my first very low-resolution, colour mobile phone with a side-kick alphabetic keyboard. I was sad that I could no longer play the game Snake, which I had had on my previous phone. The media predicted what the first iPhone would look like. I imagined a kind of an iPod phone with a big round wheel to navigate; it took me a while to understand the concept of an application.
To buy this phone, I had to travel pretty far. I also entered several different stores to get different advice on which phone is the best and where to get it for the best price. Today, comparing and ordering can be done conveniently online – with a phone.
Terms such as Social Media, Facebook, YouTube and so on – the list is endless – were fairly new back then. Nobody could have imagined how those inventions changed the way people today interact, socialise, communicate, and work with another.
Every part of our lives today is digitalised. Business operations, products, and even customers are digital. Nevertheless, business leaders often still don’t think in “digital terms”. They struggle with the loss of customer relationships and the need to engage with their stakeholders on a digital level.
What Charles Darwin said in the 19th Century about evolution is also what businesses need to keep it mind today.
“It’s not the strongest of the species that will survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
Today, the size of a business doesn’t matter, it’s agility and the capability to re-invent themselves that gives companies a sustainable advantage to compete in a digitalised world.Digitolution: Digital evolution is such a strong force, constantly reshaping the world with an incredible speed – affecting everybody’s daily life – that it deserves to be a word on its own.
This post is brought to you by one of AQ’s Undergraduates, Alexa V. As part of our internship programs, undergraduates and classic interns are encouraged to take part in company culture. Alexa’s primary focus is in digital marketing.