The Internet has been around for 28 years, and it is now obviously an important part of everyday life. However, the Internet has really only turned things inside out over the last few years. But just as rolling up the sleeves of your shirt properly can be tricky, getting to grips with the changes caused by the Internet can take some time as well. While we don’t want to get into whether rolling up your sleeves is in fashion or not, we do want to provide you with a brief overview of the key developments in digitalization.
And Suddenly, Everything Became “Smart”
Smart home, smart phone, smart factory, smart watch. “Smart” is the trendy adjective of the hour, if an hour can last ten years. Digitalization is leading to intelligence being integrated in places where it’s never been before. For example, someone with a traditional house might look with jealousy at his neighbor, whose window shades close automatically when the sprinklers turn on, which, in turn, know the weather forecast and when it’s time to water the lawn. This is the first digitalization trend:
Everything Is Connected
Devices are connected to one another and act together, utilizing external data. If you have a smart home, then you’ll need a green index finger in your garden rather than a green thumb. Digitalization provides a completely different advantage for companies: it boosts efficiency and productivity substantially because the cogs, so to speak, fit together better. In addition, an expert analysis of the data can show where there is potential:
Big Data with Two Faces
Data analysis is both a curse and a blessing. The information that large datasets and applied pattern recognition yield can, depending on how they are used, be very helpful or frightening. Video and music streaming services offer suggestions that are more likely to appeal to you – entertainment based on your tastes. When it comes to political advertising, the web shows you news that appealed to people with the same interests as you – which can leave you with a negative feeling. Big data has two faces: the one that offers you a friendly smile and gives you a good feeling, but whose true intentions you only learn afterward, and the other one that looks almost dull, but which understands connections, recognizes patterns, derives information, and makes suggestions you would not otherwise have thought of yourself.
Sharing Is Fun
“Mine, yours. These are all bourgeois categories,” Marc-Uwe Kling has his protagonist say in his best-selling novel. And in doing so he illustrates the attitude that the new generation of consumers has toward ownership. When people had nothing or very little, possession represented a difference in status. We now live in a time and place where, although we don’t have everything, we at least have enough. Ownership is no longer a differentiating criterion, it is no longer a status symbol. The attitude toward ownership is changing and is fertile ground for a new economic sector: sharing providers. Sharing services do not simply sprout up out of nowhere. ride services, e-scooters, cars, apartments – everything is being shared. Many established business models are based on ownership as a foundation and as a status symbol and these models take a critical view of sharing. It is particularly irksome to these models that they must now share the market with new competitors.
Mistakes Are Part of the Solution
Trial and error – that was the method we used as children to explore the world. It was how we determined how thick a branch had to be to support our weight, tested the limits of our parents, and found out how much ice cream we could eat before we got a stomachache. During our school years, mistakes were “penalized” with bad grades, thus making the process of failure – a process that was supposed to help us learn – a taboo. Previously, the business world was also structured in a way that was intended to exclude mistakes, with the consequences of mistakes being economic damage, competitive disadvantage, or a lawsuit. As the pace of digitalization increases, mistakes and failure are accepted as a way of learning and thus growing. Because all software solutions are digital it is possible to analyze them precisely and modify them at short notice, thus combining the learning phase with the subsequent adoption phase. It is, finally, once again okay to make mistakes and learn from them. Everything is in beta.
Including this article. We’ve surely forgotten a trend that’s important to you, that represents an opportunity for you or with which you already have experience. Digitalization will continue, and we’re excited about the new trends we’ll be able to report on full of amazement in a few years.