by James Bryant, Chief Revenue Officer – Green Light Change
In 2017 an article by Paul Sakuma in Wired entitled ‘Even Steve Jobs Didn’t predict the i-phone decade’i, points out that Job’s intention in the I-phone was to create an IPod that made phone calls and that he didn’t foresee the growth of Apps or the desire to be continually connected to the internet and other people. Prediction is fraught with danger, however the good thing is that if I get it right it will be remembered and if I get it wring it is most likely to be totally forgotten!
The sudden rapid growth of the ‘mobile device’ can be explained by satisfaction of a market need, specifically in giving the user new ways of behaving that they like and want. The mobile phone isn’t a phone: it is a personal device that connects the user with a menu of personalised behavioural choices.
So to predict the direction of technology we first need to understand the behavioural desires of the majority and at this specific time two major irresistible forces are colliding; ‘The age of digitisation’ and covid-19.
The Age of Digitisation
The real world is moving into the digital space. Increasing volumes of what we do and how we do it are being encoded in ones and zeros and pushed onto servers to be stored, analysed, understood, acted upon and responded to.
Whilst individuals have already, knowingly and unknowingly begun to conduct much of their lives ‘on line’, in cyber space and in the cloud, organisations have been slower to respond. However, driven by the need to keep up with consumer behaviour, to find operational insights and advantage and to improve strategic understanding, organisations have slowly begun to digitise. Whilst for many the value is unclear the promise is that once transferred, mining the data will enable them to strike it rich.
Whatever sector you operate in Data is the new oil: fuelling the economy. The trend is illustrated by the predictions of 390% growth in the volume of consumer data from 45 zettabytesii in 2019 to 175 by 2025.
“Today, more than 5 billion consumers interact with data every day — by 2025, that number will be 6 billion, or 75% of the world’s population. In 2025, each connected person will have at least one data interaction every 18 seconds. Many of these interactions are because of the billions of IoT devices connected across the globe, which are expected to create over 90 ZB of data in 2025.”
—The Digitization of the World
Industry will likely outstrip this growth rate. The aim will be to achieve a ‘real time’ understanding of consumer needs and align internal operations and supply chain to manage supply and demand and address risks and opportunities as they arise. The realisation of Digitised gold has 4 key steps: data capture, understanding, decision and response. The success of a business will depend on how well it executes these four steps.
The Age of Covid
Whilst in itself Covid-19 is a destructive force, it is the earth quake to the Tsunami of economic impact that is following in its wake. From a technology perspective Covid-19 can be seen an accelerator both for individuals and for business, shifting more and more behaviour into the digital world from purchasing to working from home. The digital superhighway has never been busier. Whilst this behaviour is a forced shift out of necessity, it is likely that much of it will persist beyond the threat of covid-19 for three reasons.
Firstly, because the new behaviour has benefits that are preferred, secondly because post covid-19 economics (lower disposable income) won’t allow a reversal and thirdly because by the time the covid-19 threat is over, they will have become business as usual.
In this mix, working from home may be one of behavioural dynamics with the biggest effect. From a range of surveys 50% say they expect to work from home more in the futureiv. Initial indications are that this will lead to higher productivity and employee engagementv and lower overhead costs for businesses as less office space is required.
For individuals this means less money and time spent on travel, lower expenditure on vehicles, fuel, casual food purchase & ‘smart’ clothing, a reduction in the use of mobile data and possibly an increase in expenditure on home improvement.
For society at large this means lowering the priority of improving travel infrastructure, lower levels of pollution, a shift of expenditure to local to home, possible conversion of offices to domestic housing, the need for better digital communications and less demand for childcare.
Due to a contraction and re-allocation of disposable income some industries will irrevocably contract with massive numbers of businesses having to close. To survive and succeed in this emerging digital/covid-19 economy may require your business to pivot and at the least you will need to invest in capturing data, understanding it, take better decisions as a result and be able to action those decisions successfully, faster and in the most effective and efficient manner.
So nothing has really changed: digitisation is just a new tool to improve the ability of a business to serve its customers whilst at the same time improving operational productivity and performance: It just happens to be a tool most can’t avoid!