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Nine business bets for our emerging digital economy
Every year seems like an accelerated version of the previous one. Every year we think we have reached the peak and then following year comes, paling everything before it.
Will 2016 be the same? Every available sign suggests so. We might be worried about a potential new bubble burst or slowdown on stock markets, but this will not stop new ideas, business models, or new opportunities from emerging.
Here are my nine bets - what will change in 2016 in business, technology and social.
Doing the same thing over and over again will never take you to new places
In 2016, we will see more and more organisations focus on revenue resilience and look for new markets and opportunities. This will require oppositional thinking - looking for radically different ways of running business, for instance: paying your customers rather than charging them. Environmental sensing teams will be formed at many organisations with a goal of becoming aware and understanding the potential impact of new trends on their organisations.
Resolution for 2016: set up a team to do “environmental sensing”.
The gig economy train is not slowing down
Newly emerging business models will only get stronger in 2016. The gig economy will continue and will go well beyond house rentals and transportation. We will see at least one new global player following the Peers Inc. model - providing means for individuals to offer their products and services in an easier way. And the next dominant player will likely come from Asia, a market that has remained largely untapped.
Resolution for 2016: consider becoming a platform for the gig economy.
Delight your customers by predicting and meeting their needs ahead of time
We will see a rise in proactive organisations, that is, organisations that are able to offer products and services the moment the need for them arises often even before the customer realises there is a need.
We will see the first commercial examples of predictive delivery (“your product is at the doorstep, would you like to buy it, or shall we take it back?”). And after the easy ones are demonstrated and customers get used to it, other - often unexpected - players will follow: among others we will see the first truly proactive governments. All of it thanks to progress in digital identity.
Resolution for 2016: redefine your products and services, become a truly proactive organisation.
Welcome your digital personal assistant. One that really assists, not just pretends to
Digital identity will enable not only new organisational behaviour, but also facilitate evolution of other technologies. Digital personal assistants will continue to evolve. They will not only be able to tell you where the film you want to see is playing on the weekend or remind you about a doctor’s appointment, they will be able to pay your bills, switch electricity providers or truly support you in your work, like a real assistant (human-agent augmentation).
Resolution for 2016: get more things done by delegating to your digital PA.
If the world around you moves faster than you do, the end is near
Incumbents in asset-intensive industries will be challenged by technology advances even more than in previous years. The Janicki Omniprocessor will enable entire communities to go off the sewage and water grids. High capacity batteries in garages and self-driving cars will enable individuals to trade electricity outside of the grid. Telecommunication providers will see more and more pressure from meta providers. The cord-cutting movement affecting cable TV will spread to other industries.
Resolution for 2016: if you are an incumbent in your industry, focus on environmental sensing to avoid surprises.
Digital capital is an enabler of social good
Existing technologies will mature and be used in critical situations. Government agencies, emergency responders and disaster management will access Periscope and Facebook Mentions live streaming to gather intelligence. We will retain control of our digital selves and at the same time be able to “share our digital capital” whenever it may be helpful. This digital mindset will also be applied by organisations, looking for options to digitise idle assets using new technologies.
Resolution for 2016: have a close look at your assets. Can they deliver new value in the digital economy?
Hardware will become the new app
More and more individuals will find it easy to join the “maker culture”. Platforms like Arduino or Raspberry Pi will allow more people to rapidly prototype hardware solutions. We will see examples of Internet of Things applications that are finally compelling and useful to individuals. Environments like Apple’s HomeKit will only add to the momentum. On the other hand, platforms like Kickstarter will pave the way to efficient prototype-to-product processes.
Resolution for 2016: join and support a makerspace.
Build a community and a product (or service) will come
We will see more businesses starting in an unorthodox way: by first creating a community and only after that realising what product or service they could offer. Digital communities will become the new unfair advantage in every industry.
Resolution for 2016: identify and invest in your communities.
Digital intelligence is the new black
Society will continue to learn how to deal with digital economy trends. We will move from digital literacy through digital behaviour to digital elegance. And we will see growing interest in cybersecurity, despite numerous governments trying to discourage citizens from using data encryption tools.
Resolution for 2016: invest in digital literacy and development.
Marek Kowalkiewicz works for Queensland University of Technology. He receives funding from Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council and PwC.
Marek Kowalkiewicz, Professor and PwC Chair in Digital Economy, Queensland University of Technology