We’ve just begun a new year in the early ‘twenties, and looking back with perfect hindsight over the past 20 years, we might be shocked at how deeply digital transformation has changed our businesses, and our lives. It’s no longer about the 4th Industrial Revolution, it’s the fourth age of humanity, of society, of the world – we’ve become Digital Humans.
It’s all very well to blame it on smartphones, even though, back in 2002, all we had were BlackBerrys and Nokia Communicators – remember them? In fact, the digital revolution had already begun with the dotcom boom, and the first iPhone simply put it firmly on a mobile-for-everyone trajectory.
Now we are entrenched in our always-on lifestyle, ruled at work, at home, on the road, at the beach, in the mountains, even in the air, by that one app that each of us relies on, to manage their life and conduct business.
In China it was WeChat that showed the way, giving people a platform to buy, sell, pay, rate, review, advertise, serve and more – all without leaving the app. In other societies and markets, there are different digital overlords; even within a company or family, you might find several ‘swamp monsters’.
But at its heart, the ‘app’ that allowed rival technologies like Windows and Mac to browse the same data, to network and collaborate, to give birth to digital giants – the web and its successor, the internet of everything – rules us all.
And we are happy to be its servants, for the bountiful gifts that we receive!