The Digital Age is not what you think?

There is no common understanding as to what people mean when they use the term ‘digital’. For some it is simply another name for IT. For others, it’s just an antonym for analogue. In this presentation,we see that the digital age is much more than the industrial era amped up on tech steroids. And much more than what some refer to as Industry 4.0. In fact, the path to the digital era started many millennia back, when mankind first picked up a rock to use as a tool. On that day, mankind decided to take control of his own destiny by becoming augmented. And on that day the technology industry was created.

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We can look at the world of business as having four chapters. The first of which was the era of the hunter gatherer. We were highly mobile, social, creative and were judged on our productivity. Similarly, so during Bix 2.0, the agricultural era. However, during Biz 3.0, the industrial era, our natural anthropological drivers were suppressed, because they were not conducive to the mechanised cog worker needed for the factories. Biz 4.0, the digital age, can be thought of as a return to our true nature. Workers want to be mobile, social and so on. That is how we are wired. anthropological-drivers Now that technology is starting to take on more of the human work, it is now time for humans to move beyond cog work, and start to operate at the top of our cognitive capacity. Even though technology is eliminating work, it is helping humans to do even greater, and ultimately more satisfying work. This return to our humanity is changing the very nature of the relationship between the employer and the employee, in that the power axis is moving towards the latter. Business models are having to adapt to disruptive forces. Many established industrial era players will struggle to cope. Risk management increasingly means risk acquisition, rather than risk reduction. The very nature of corporate culture is changing now that more and more of the workforce are freelancers and gig workers. risk-management For organisations to thrive in the digital age, they need to embrace our anthropological drivers. When these are met, we are more likely to perform at the top of our capacity. Organisations also need to focus on the goal of creating assets, and not merely making a profit. The key assets to keep in mind are:

  • Financial capital.
  • Physical capital.
  • Brand capital.
  • Intellectual capital.
  • Data capital.

Very few people are focusing on data capital today. This is reminiscent of the early oil explorers who burnt off the gas, regarding it as simply a by-product of oil extraction with no real value. Smart organisations in the digital age are more tribe-like in their behaviour. Key aspects of operating as a tribe including a focus on:

  • Being attentive.
  • Having ambition.
  • Valuing artistry.
  • Being adaptable.
  • Adding value.

These will form the basis of the organisation’s business processes. The traditional functional / departmental model has had its day. In summary:

  • Organisations need to meet the anthropological needs of their people.
  • Create capital, in particular focussing on turning data into capital.
  • Create environments that maximise the cognitive capacity of the workers.

This Biz 4.0 model is detailed in Ade McCormack’s latest book – Biz 4.0: An anthropological blueprint for business in the digital age.

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