Advice for Navigating Digital Turbulence

Currency troubles, questions about demand in developing economies, energy pricing issues, creeping default risk on bonds, and a global equity markets selloff have 2016 off to a rocky start.


You could look at these developments pessimistically as indicating a downturn—in energy, in aggregate demand, in consumption in China. Or you could see them as positive—evidence of the turbulence that accompanies the rotation of assets from the knowledge economy to the digital economy and the new business models associated with it.

To position your company for the future, it is better to go where the demand will be in the future than to chase after the remnants of markets built on old business models. This issue of Digitalist Magazine  focuses on how to make this transition.

Q116_cover_still_225x300In a workshop I attended recently about capturing momentum from digital technologies, senior executives from leading global companies kept running into the same wall: digital business models and technologies are truly disruptive. How do you remake your company, then, without destroying it in the process? No one had an answer other than to go slowly. We wanted a deeper and more meaningful response, so our cover story for this issue, “When to Cook the Golden Goose,” addresses this challenge head on.

Another of our features, “The New Means of Production,” looks at the emergence of algorithms and points to an entirely new category of asset that every company needs to factor into its strategic planning process. Our research revealed that if you’re not evaluating your competitors’ algorithm assets against your own, you’re already behind. You should begin planning your algorithm strategy now as a supplement to your annual strategic planning process and incorporate it into your next full-cycle planning  effort.

Finally, we’ve all read rosy stories about how robotics will take over work that is dangerous or distasteful. As early as the 1930s, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that by 2030 we would live in a leisure society where human labor had been all but obviated. We think these perspectives take a particularly utopian view of how robotics will be deployed without considering the difficult transition that will take place as robotic advances are introduced into the workplace. The inevitably incremental adoption model most likely means that jobs for humans will evolve rather than disappear.

The feature “Bring Your Robot to Work” examines the rise of robotics from the practical perspective of how robots and humans can coexist and enhance each other’s productivity. Yes, there may ultimately be some singularity moment years in the future (Keynes predicted within 14 years). But companies need to start figuring out today how to enhance and coexist with our robot friends.

With a positive outlook and a well thought-out strategy, companies don’t have to be buffeted by digital storms. This issue of Digitalist Magazine will help you define a clear course.

Jeff Woods
Editorial Director


Executive Quarterly, Editor Letter, Q1 2016