Brexit, Presidential Campaign Follies, the Olympics and Disruption Déjà vu
I was in London during the Brexit debates and heard a lot of "interesting" things about trade during those debates. Coming home, I and the rest of the world have obviously witnessed a lot of irrational pontifications in the context of our own presidential election about trade and jobs and disruption.
Watching the Olympics opening ceremonies and the parade of nations got me thinking in particular about how all of this plays out in emerging markets. And in particular, it got me thinking about the critical role that information management and disruption plays in emerging markets in changing the game and bringing new customers and new competitors into the game.
Image source = http://www.indiaexpress.com
That led me back to James McQuivey’s Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation. I’ve been a big fan of the book, and find myself coming back to the book again and again in the context of thinking about the future of information and content management.
For those unfamiliar with his core premise, McQuivey starts the book with a description of a 12-year old entrepreneurial mobile app developer named Thomas. As he thinks about the kinds of technology resources available to Thomas versus those available during his own youth, he offers this conclusion:
“What tools does Thomas need to pursue his digitally disruptive goals? A computer? Check. An internet connection? Check. A programming language and SDK? Check. A friction-free digital platform for distributing and making money from his innovations? Check.”
As he thinks about this disruptive stew, he reaches two conclusions about “old” disruption (the kind that Clayton Christensen talks about so eloquently) and what is going on now.
“Under old disruption, only a very small number of innovative companies can amass the tremendous amount of capital necessary to develop and bring a small number of possible ideas to market. Capital is the first constraint. You can raise capital through bank loans or IPOs or private investment, but as long as you have to spend money to make money, the market can only fund so many innovations. The second constraint is information. Because only a few ideas will make it to capitalization, people keep ideas secret, floating only those ideas that have immediately obvious economic merit. And the only innovators who get funded are those who have access to holders of capital and are willing to jump through whatever hoops investors deem necessary to prove their ideas have merit.”
And he offers this prediction, which I think hits the nail squarely on the head in terms of the disruptive challenges facing companies, and the critical importance of information management in the disruptive times ahead:
“When companies adopt technology, they do old things in new ways. When companies internalize technology, the find entirely new— disruptive— things to do.”
That's exactly where we are right now, moving quickly past the surface level disruption of technologies as they play out in the consumer realm and get incorporatied into the very fabric of how business is done, creating radical disruption along the way.
All of this ultimately manifests itself in international trade, financial, and data flows and the impact these on the individual knowledge skills that workers need to have to survive and the organizational competencies in information management that companies and governments require to continue to be relevant and competitive.
I came across a great McKinsey study on this, Digital globalization: The new era of global flows, and that led to this tip sheet, 6 Things You Need to Know About Emerging Markets and Information Management.
Check it out.