The digital revolution is advancing at breathtaking speed. Technologies and applications that land on our devices today would have been considered pure science fiction a year ago. This transition leaves out no business sector: companies, markets, business models, forms of organization, working methods – everything is being questioned, everything changes radically. But the changes go even further: they affect our view of work, leisure, lifestyles, purchase and consumption behaviours. Everything is in a constant state of flux.
We like to call this rapid transition the fourth industrial revolution. At the same time, however, we realize that the terms we use can often no longer precisely describe what is going on. The changes happen so quickly that they leave not only skills and regulations behind, but often enough even the language. And so we can only guess to what point automation will change our world, our working and private lives over the next few years and decades.
This is a question that has to be asked, and above all in the economy. Companies that do not engage in the digital revolution, do not put it at the center of their considerations, are risking to loose everything, to miss the boat. What we experience today is an almost permanent “disruption”. This term refers to an innovative technology that completely crowds out an existing technology, a product or a service. The main players in this “disruption”, the so-called “disrupters”, are those companies that bring the revolutionary technology to the market – today mostly young digital companies with a new business model and an output that resembles the existing, but is more attractive and/ or has a higher price. Why is it mostly young companies? Quite simply, their approach to the market is different. Too radical the change required to companies, services or products and the human resources present for decades in the market at the base of the previous success. A well-rehearsed business model, an established product, in short everything that was once an immense advantage in the market, is now a burden.
This consideration highlights the classic examples of “disruption” that have changed our lives forever. For example, watches are still sold, but we usually read the time from our smartphone. So watches have to fulfill other functions: they are a piece of jewelry, fashion accessory or multifunctional device for athletes or health-conscious people. And what about analog photography? It became art. Digital photography has killed a business giant like Kodak in just few years. Even newspapers fall deeper and deeper into the crisis, newspaper dealers are disappearing, we are looking for our good old record shops in vain and libraries are feeling the cold breath of Amazon on the neck.
In a few years these changes have wiped out consolidated business models and those who believe they are safe with their services and products are wrong. Today, it is necessary to be alert and to observe the digital changes. So, when I visit companies that do not want to know about Business Intelligence, nothing about ERP and CRM, I feel chills, because I realize – forgive me if I say it bluntly – that I have living dead in front of me. Living dead who do not understand that the end of their existence is only one thing: a matter of time.