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Capita Institute

Digital continues to have a profound effect on the world. The way we live, the way we work and the way we relate to one another is changing faster than ever as a result of digital technologies, processes and capabilities.

Whether that be through how we interact with our governments and our communities at a national and local level as citizens, how we work and communicate with businesses as employees, how we search and shop as consumers or how we socialize as friends and family, digital is quite literally changing the fabric of life in the 21st century.

Below are 10 observations on the state of digital to consider as you think about your organisation's digital future:

  1. We’re in the fourth paradigm of global transformation, this one driven by general digital technologies (the previous three being steam power, electricity generation and the printing press). Each of these previous paradigms brought about worldwide socioeconomic change. Digital will do the same.
  2. We’re still very early on in the digital revolution, living in a part-analogue and part-digital world. As a result, there is a great opportunity to reimagine how we improve productivity, drive societal change, and create value.
  3. While digital transformation has technology at its core, it’s about more than the technology. It’s a different way of thinking and doing that opens up opportunities for new business and operating models that combine human creativity and decision-making with the power of technology.
  4. Many legacy models will be replaced and made irrelevant by "creative destruction," the process of dismantling long-established practices to make way for new innovations that drive step changes in the economic and competitive landscape.
  5. Businesses that are born digital think and do differently from businesses that have grown up analogue. They are not hemmed in by the same industry borders or perspectives on the markets they can play in. The "Tech + X" business model is core to how digitally native organisations approach value creation.
  6. Analogue or incumbent companies have struggled to overcome the challenges of legacy. Complex business and systems architectures, outdated processes and structures and cultures that have been resistant to change have proved difficult and costly to transform.
  7. In hindsight, many would not have chosen to start where they did, but legacy can also offer value in the form of existing assets that have taken years to construct and may be both hard to copy and act as barriers to entry against new upstarts.
  8. Data literacy, platforms and microservices are three key general technology themes found in leading digital businesses.
  9. Beyond technology, factors such as human-centred design, agile organisational principles and innovation are key elements supporting successful digital businesses.
  10. We were already witnessing an acceleration to digital, pre-pandemic, as the need to move from the analogue to the digital world shot up the boardroom agenda. The post-Covid-19 world will push this change journey to be faster and deeper, as a combination of productivity challenges and innovative problem-solving drive organisations operating in the public and private sectors to transform.

There is significant uncertainty about the future when it comes to economies, industries, and organisations. However, as we emerge from the "tunnel" we’ve found ourselves in, there will be opportunities to think and act differently. Organisations might find that now is the time to recalibrate their digital futures.

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