Heraclitus warned us “the only constant in life is change”. Even if it’s not possible to accurately predict the future, and the business world is no exception, we are curious and interested to develop hypotheses about it. We will then be able to test them and shape a framework that captures those findings. This is what our project, the post digital business framework, is about; we want to build a matrix to help us understand the future of business, no less.
At the moment, most of the main consultancies (Oracle, CapGemini,Accenture or even Gartner) agree word for word on the fact that “every business is a digital business” and Google is obviously not complaining about it.
But what’s next? What will happen when every single businesses will have became truly digital? What is a post digital business? And more generally, what is the future of business? Where will the next wave of value come from? Which business assets will make a real difference in 3, 5 or 7 years time? How can an organisation prepare itself to thrive both now and into the future? These questions form the starting point for this initiative.
Basically, we are creating during this journey a flexible and interactive framework that will allow us (and you) to monitor what will increasingly matter for future businesses. We want to be able to assess the main key elements of success of any given company, compare these with the best in class of their category and identify where are the areas of improvement of the surveyed organisation.
A performative vision
In a technical determinism perspective where “the medium is the message” (Marshall McLuhan), we understand that a technical revolution leads indirectly (when the usage is democratised enough) to a, potentially massive, cultural change. This is what happened for the printing press revolution for instance: it took almost 100 years for the uses to become democratised enough and finally form a key component of massive cultural change through scientific (the Encyclopedia), artistic (the Renaissance) and religious revolutions (the Reformation).
Our hypothesis is that the most important cultural changes coming from the digital revolution have not happened yet because we are still understanding digital as an end instead of a means. Remember the not so hidden injunction of the main consultancies, “every business is a digital business”? You understand that getting digital is still an end in itself. Now come back to the printing press revolution again, as soon as it happened, everyone wanted to print something whatever it was, so we printed Bibles and everything that we had close at hand. We were at that time considering the use of the printing press as an end. But when the uses were democratised enough, the printing press became a norm and the use of that technology turned from being an end to a means to achieve something bigger.
Today most of the businesses aim to be digital but purposelessly. Our conviction and what we are going to try to demonstrate over this journey is that successful post digital businesses are purpose led businesses leveraging digital as the means to be so. Indeed, each post technical revolution era (from the Wheel to Digital including the Printing Press) bring maturity not to say clearly wisdom (at least in the uses and then on the technique perception by itself), and thus meaning and purpose into the technique.
Welcome to the purpose led post digital era.
An iterative approach
To investigate properly this topic, we are mainly adopting human and social sciences methodologies and tools (mainly coming from history, sociology and semiology).
This journey is now live, iterative and by reading this, you are already part of it. We have commenced the online research, expert interviews (both in the business and academic fields) and analysis of the generated data.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it” said Abraham Lincoln and this is basically what we are going to do. Besides, if we wanted to be even more precise, we could say: “the best way to predict the future is to co-create it”. We are currently at the beginning of this ambitious journey and it will be successful only if it’s as collaborative as possible to be able to get a wide, strong and in-depth understanding of the dynamics currently going on and their importance.
We aim to release the first version of our post digital business framework for the end of June 2016. So if you are interested in this initiative, please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below or drop me a line directly on benjamin(dot)obadia(at)weareatmosphere(dot)com to push the conversation forward.
See you on the other side!