What is digital technology really disrupting?
The uptake of digital services by consumers on phone, tablet, and TV is disrupting companies, organisations and patterns of work.
Digital is upsetting the status quo in surprising ways; whilst the superheroes of the age of digital disruption are often seen to be young professionals, the populations of the developed world – who are using and ultimately paying for the technology development – are ageing.
Between the real and virtual worlds, have two demographics ever been so far apart?
Who’s going to school who to gain sustainable competitive advantage in a disruption based business environment? Will the present day disruptors, in time, become established businesses and resist the next wave of disruption longer than the last?
Or will a chasm so deep develop that the ‘new kids’ will drift away and reside in a digital world of constant disruption, whilst the ‘old guys and gals’ fritter and waste away clinging to static business models?
Generation Digital – Join in the debate
Generation Digital – Worlds Apart? Is a YAA Network Event hosted by Ernst and Young in London on the 27th April, giving York Alumni members the opportunity to get involved with this debate.
The event promises to provoke and explore where digital technology is causing paradigm shifts and whether an ageing population is a challenge, or the biggest opportunity yet?
How can everyone work together to bring the benefits of change to every Digital generation?
Disrupted or not?
- UK FTSE 100 CEOs: Average age is 52.8 (complete data set) (CITY AM)
- The average age of founders of The Wall Street Journal’s billion-dollar-club list (which is dominated by technology firms worth more than US$1Bn) was 31 (they were 39 at time of research in 2014)
- It is estimated that, by 2030, 19% of the US population will be over 65 – roughly the same proportion that currently own an iPhone. And by 2050, there will be one retired person for very two that are in work (BBC)
- There are ageing global populations in Europe and China, while indication are the US will remain “flatter” (due to immigration policy)
- It’s claimed the tech sector, notably in Silicon Valley, is subject to ageism rather than being a meritocracy
- Does the generations ‘not getting each other’ risk leading to not trusting one another and a slowing of progress?
- With the average age of a UK FTSE 100 CEO over 52 (it is similar for S&P 500 CEOs) are decisions in the hands of the best informed, or those fending off the progress that disruption may bring?
- Will the 40-something founders of The Wall Street Journal’s billion-dollar-club list build the right experience to reach the average age of their FTSE 100 counterparts and stay in post – or are they burning themselves out by acquiring power too soon?
New money or old power?
So, how do the superheroes and the blue chips compare?
For: Start-Up advantages
- Lean mentality – identify target market at speed, reach out and address fast
- Rapid Product Prototyping – whip it up, fail fast, learn faster, flip it out via a community of users based on trust
- Engaging digital – crowdfunding platform raises fast awareness, website is landing page for launching betas, feedback in mobile enabled environment
- All flash, exciting, interest generating, looks promising, lots of early adoption
Against: Start-Up disadvantages
- Younger generation doesn’t have experience of building sustainable product experiences
- They leap from one concept/idea to another without finishing the first ones thoroughly – fail fast might lead to fail permanently as change-fatigue sets in
- Long term adoption and use peter out too quickly – no sustainable, regenerative sales (recurring subscriptions over time that financiers value so deeply)
- Beyond ‘something disruptive and new,’ what keeps people’s interest in terms of boring things like utility, pragmatism, depth of capability, long term trust?
For: Mature Company advantages
- Substantial capital and resources – steady hands in control
- Nurtured customer loyalty, brand depth and connectedness over long periods of time can ride over rough patches – they can afford to fail every once in a while
- Mature, grown-up sales and marketing capabilities which appeal to consumers with wealth
- Stable R&D and Test to consider things thoroughly before going to market
Against: Mature Company disadvantages
- Slow – bureaucratic, political, silo’d working. Not good at operating multiple, cross-functional work streams simultaneously to engage with new ideas
- From ideation to concept to internal pitch to budgeting to team assignment to experimentation to test to consumer – may take many years to get a product to market
- Hierarchical thinking – queries go up the chain to the top. They come back fettered with politics, bias, rules, frameworks before they work their way to the ‘doers’
- Methods for understanding the customer are slow, sloppy, clouded by layers of interaction and interpretation
Join the debate at the York Aumni Generation Digital event. Hosted by an experienced panel it promises to be a lively debate, as well a great learning and networking opportunity.