Welcome to the Digital Economy

Welcome to the Digital Economy

In years gone by the term digital would have cleared the kitchen at parties. Today it is more likely to have the opposite effect. Thanks to smart phones and tablets practically everyone is a technology early adopter. You might say that the tech genie has escaped from the IT function.

But this is only one aspect of a seismic economic trend. Today work is increasingly where the worker is rather than where the property portfolio manager says it is. The industrial model tension brought about by workers being paid for their time rather than their productivity, which in turn led to the emergence of management science, is coming to an end.

Innovation as a defence against becoming an economic backwater is changing the workforce from compliant corporate cogs to highly creative artists. Imagine having Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol and Naomi Campbell at your next team meeting and you will have a sense of what constitutes the step change in management practice.

Work-life balance is being replaced by work-life integration. The power axis shift from employer to worker means that the latter are setting the conditions of employment. Knowing they will work longer into their day and later into their life, as is natural for any artist, they will expect to conduct their social life in ‘office hours’.

The management overhead brought about by the collapse of the command and control model needs to be offset by an enhanced return on the human capital employed.
Thus along with mobility, collaboration, which can be thought of as a superset of social media, will be highly important. The ability to turn a geographically dispersed set of artists into one corporate ‘super brain’ will in time be table stakes in the 21st Century.

So this is more than the ‘industrial era on steroids’, it is a complete set of paradigm shifts that are taking place as you read this. Globalisation, energy security and the emerging middle classes in the southern and Eastern hemisphere are driving this. And new technologies are fuelling it, hence the reference to the digital economy.

One could equally call this new economic era the trust or social economy. In any case the skills, attitudes and knowledge that prepared us for the industrial era will be of limited value in what might be called the new normal. 

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