Countries without borders, house without walls, and the world as a playground to experiment and discover new things, is the way of life in the digital age. We are presently living in the “mid-digital” age where in some part of the world, digital has been accepted into the mainstream while the others are just beginning to realise its potential and how it can change their lives for better. Think of a world where everything is already ‘digital’ and our lives are embedded in technology and science in such a way that the end experience is truly seamless.
As driver-less cars, connected devices, bots, drones, and brain chips become mainstream, what is it that will define the post-digital world and mark the next phase of human evolution on earth?
“Post digital” is like having screens all around us – that are all interconnected to help us seamlessly interact with the world outside, either through your car, house, wrist or eyeglasses or even mere sensation or thoughts.
As the world goes ‘beyond digital’, I envision more and more people living in ‘smart cities’ and growth of a circular economy with increased pressure on land, water, and food. Further, with the ageing population and increased urbanisation, the industries and workplaces will get even more automated and would lead to more jobs becoming redundant. Business models will be driven by – customised services and experience economy – that celebrate the power of an individual. Given this, constant learning, reinvention of skill-sets, would be the key to sustain in the post digital world.
From a business perspective, there will be more demand for people who can fathom the needs of a consumer even before they are spelt out. Thus, the need for a wonderful blend of technology and skills in psychometry and behavioural sciences would be there to be successful in the future.
XaaS which means delivery of anything as a service will become an even bigger phenomenon with more and more companies “tweaking” and “tailoring” their offerings to win the customers and their loyalty.
That does not mean that the “human” roles will totally disappear. It is just that one would need to acquire new skills and training to navigate through the post-digital world. Data scientists, anthropologists, animation and virtual reality specialists and skills in problem-solving, design and innovation will be key to competitiveness and growth. Asking questions and creative reasoning will certainly be the skills of the future. In a true ‘post digital’ world, one could be busy discussing the leisure-life balance as opposed to work-life balance. It is only fair to say that it is a territory yet to unfold.
With access to limited natural resources, the millennials will get more environmentally conscious and this will push the demand for sustainable, renewable resources, eco-friendly products, and services. Digital will play a huge role in enabling this, whether it is in precision agriculture using sensors and automation, or Blockchain for democratic processes and utilities or everything from housing to mobility to holiday as a service.
This vision of new possibilities in the post digital world, where the boundaries between physical and digital disappear, would bloom only if we are able to successfully adapt and transform ourselves to new world order set by Generation Z - the successors of today’s millennials. The savvy (iest) of all the generations will have very different demands but it will all be in the purview of technologies of future - Internet of Things, 5G, augmented reality, and robotics amongst others.
Our world will be limitless and our sustenance in that limitless realm will be critical in the times to come. It will take a great amount of rethinking on our part to leverage our knowledge and capabilities to their full potential. We will have to constantly re-invent and innovate ourselves in the face of disruption to stay relevant in the game and win it too. It is time for us to proactively build the next stage of evolution and transform our lives as we walk into the realm of the unknown.
Views are personal.
CP Gurnani is the managing director and chief executive officer of Tech Mahindra.