Implications of Real-Time Businesses and the Digital Workforce

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Implications of Real-Time Businesses and the Digital Workforce

Ahead of us lies the “digital economy,” created by “the digital connection of people, companies, devices, processes, and systems across all areas of the global economy.”  Inevitably, the Deployment Phase of the Fifth Techno-Economic Revolution will drive the propagation of the digital economy, creating a dramatically different world. 

Comparing the world of the 1970s, for which most of our regulations and management practices were formulated, to the world of 2030, will be like comparing the world of the 1890s to the world of the 1960s:  Nearly everything will be different.  This will create great opportunities and threats.  Businesses that refuse to embrace the revolution will be swept away, along with outmoded non-commercial economic institutions. 

Much of the resulting stress will be borne by workers. 

Since the financial crisis, the forces of creative destruction have accelerated.  Consider some examples of the highly disruptive changes that have already overturned the basis of competition in major industries around the world: 

  • Facebook is the largest media company, but creates no content of its own.
  • Some of the largest software vendors, like Google and Apple, don’t build the apps that they sell.
  • Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Skype, and Netflix have become, respectively, the largest taxi, accommodation, telecom, and movie providers in the world, without owning any taxis, hotels, telco infrastructure, or movie theaters.
  • North American energy producers, using twenty-first century digital technologies, have wrested control of global energy prices from OPEC, without owning the fields or relying on coercion.

Contrary to what many would like to see, this disruption won’t end anytime soon. 

Consider the following facts:1

  • By 2027, it’s estimated that 75 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 will be companies that are not in the index today.
  • By 2030, 10 percent of the largest companies in the United States will be virtual corporations, with less than 10 percent of their workers working in an office, store, or factory at any given time.
  • According to IDC, “By 2020, 60 percent of Global 2000 companies will have doubled their productivity by digitally transforming many processes from human-based to software-based delivery.” So, if an enterprise is not on the path to doubling its productivity in the next four years, it will most likely be significantly behind its competitors.

As everything and everyone becomes digitally connected, this hyper-connectivity will enable the rise of a new “digital workforce,” which will harness artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things to deliver results to the marketplace...

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