The Year of Shifts

The year of shifts is upon us. 2016 will ultimately be viewed as the bridge to a different future; a year where our intuition and beliefs will be reset. Accelerating advancements across science and technology have set the foundation for these shifts. Driven by societal and economic challenges, we will leverage this foundation to change current institutions and build new ones. To succeed, organizations of all types must view transformation through a different lens; one that enables their role in this future. In my current series, I am focusing on the thirteen (13) key enablers of future viability. The first post explored Structural Change. In this post, I will look closer at the pillars of transformation, and delve into the second enabler: a holistic digital foundation.


The visual above depicts the three pillars of transformation in the digital age. The foundation is a set of characteristics (Digital DNA) and enablers required to succeed in a vastly different future. To set the stage for the remainder of this enabler series, let’s first look at the pillars.

Future Scenario Innovation

I have spent a lot of time on Future Scenarios and their potential progression and impact over the coming decades. These scenarios have both disruptive and growth potential for society, economies, business and governments. Therefore, no transformation can occur without an initial focus here, as our viability is ultimately tied to the direction of these scenarios. Going forward, transformation must be a journey anchored in Future Thinking. The focus on societal issues, growth challenges, and viability will increase the dialog around future scenarios like the sharing economy, healthy life extension, connected healthcare, and driverless cars. Business model innovation must therefore be an imperative, especially in the context of these emerging categories.

Next Generation Productivity

Future productivity gains are driven by automation, structural re-imagination, decentralization, and an ability to rapidly combine building blocks (combinatorial). There are five primary drivers of advanced automation: the automation of knowledge work, advanced robotics, autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things, and the mobile Internet. Based on McKinsey sizing, these five disruptive technologies could have an economic impact between $14 and $30 trillion. Collectively, these innovations enable us to expand the breadth and depth of automation. Decentralization on the other hand is one of those structural changes that make what lies ahead so impactful. According to Wikipedia, decentralization is the process of redistributing or dispersing functions, powers, people, or things away from a central location or authority. 3D Printing, renewable energy, and Blockchain are examples of decentralization enablers, and as structures increasingly become decentralized and autonomous, productivity follows. As the number of potentially valuable building blocks explodes around the world, the possibilities are multiplying like never before. Our combinatorial ability allows for creativity and speed, while structural re-imagination addresses the in-effectiveness of current structures. Operating model innovation is a critical imperative within this pillar.

Next Generation Experience

It’s no secret that today; value lies in our ability to deliver optimal experiences, and the richness of experience is increasingly enhanced by technology. As growth strategies shift to complex ecosystems and the interface shifts away from screens towards more natural ways of interacting with devices (Zero UI), we will see a broadening of the experience lens. This creates the need for next generation experience strategies and tactics. The traditional marketing-centric views of experience will give way to holistic approaches that enable these optimal experiences. This broadening of the experience lens coincides with a shift towards holistic digital platforms and fuels the move towards organization redesign. This is a critical pillar linked directly to the impact of future scenarios. Scenarios like smart home, connected cars, and connected healthcare redefine how we view experience. Even a scenario like Democracy 2.0 – where citizens have greater influence over governing – is all about citizen experience (see scenario visual).


Emerging Platform

A holistic view is a big leap from the bolt-on and narrow digital approach in practice today. I say narrow, because digital is primarily applied to that which exists, as opposed to becoming a mechanism for re-imagination. As the main digital forces converge (Social, Mobil, Big Data, Analytics, and Cloud), a platform emerges to enable re-imagination. Yet Digital to date remains isolated on two levels: within organizational silos and across these main forces.

Increasingly, this isolation moves towards holism, as the breadth of digital expands from a traditional narrow lens towards a holistic digital platform. In an IT platform context, IDC often refers to this as the Third Platform. However, on the heels of this digital platform are a series of innovation accelerators that converge with it. These accelerators (Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, 3D Printing, Internet of Things, etc.) are game changers, accelerating at a pace far greater than we experienced with the digital foundation. As I’ve described before, this convergence takes the third IT platform towards an emerging General Purpose Technology Platform – and the difference is profound. It is this general purpose technology platform that delivers this second enabler through the collective use of the IT platform, and selective use of innovation accelerators.

Therefore, a holistic digital foundation can be described as an emerging general purpose technology platform that leverages advancements in science and technology to broadly reimagine what we know, and how we do things. To do so requires an unlearning and resetting of our beliefs and intuition – and the urgency to do so is growing. In this year of shifts, I expect this process of unlearning and resetting to accelerate.

8 thoughts on “The Year of Shifts

  1. […] The year of shifts is upon us. 2016 will ultimately be viewed as the bridge to a different future; a year where our intuition and beliefs will be reset. Accelerating advancements across science and technology have set the foundation for these shifts. Driven by societal and economic challenges, we will leverage this foundation to change…  […]


  2. I’m deeply concerned for my Nation of Canada. Our economy is slowing and our dollar is predicted to dip below the 70 cent US mark in the near future.

    Canada is lagging behind according to a recent article in the Globe. Digital and entrepreneurship will have to be top of the economic list in coming years. For now Canadian startups have a 2-4 times lower exit valuation than US, 22 times fewer high-tech IPO’s and on average 2.2 times less funding over the past five years.

    And big business just isn’t agile enough to innovate well as a general rule. There are of course exceptions, although we are definitely lagging in this decade when we were the innovators of two decades ago.

    Not a good scene.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, was not aware of some of those numbers.So much of this is tied to the lack of the Digital DNA that I reference. It’s not easy for traditional companies to make the “shift” – but shift they must


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