Digital Shangri-La or Something Else?

Digital Shangri-La or Something Else?

Digital Shangri-La or Something Else?
Digital Shangri-La or Something Else?

Marc Andreessen, is a technology icon, who at 22 years old created the first graphical web browser Mosaic, later going on to found Netscape, one of the first technologies companies to begin the economy. More recently Andreessen who is now a highly successful Silicon Valley venture capitalist, notably, wrote in a Wall Street Journal Essay in August 2011, “software is eating the world.” (Andreessen, 2011) In the essay, Andreessen goes on to theorize that the markets werein the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift, in which, software companies were poised to take over large swathes of the economy.” Fast forward to 2016 and not only was he spot on with regards to the kind of disruption that software companies could and ultimately have done, but the use of prolific digital technologies across industries, markets and geographies is becoming the new normal.

Companies of all sizes, but especially multinational enterprises (MNEs) are not standing still in the face of threats from Silicon Valley-esq software companies. They are rapidly responding to disruption by performing their own digital transformations, adopting the very same agile, lean and iterative processes as the software firms, while hardening them for enterprise use. They’re also aggressively leveraging cloud technologies and open sourced software, better informing their businesses through the use of big data and analytics and flattening their management structures to decrease bureaucracy. In short, the lines are eroding between what a software company is and what an MNE has become.

Deloitte Consulting, LLP. In their annual report “Tech Trends 2016: Innovating in the digital era”, attempts to forecast the coming trends in technology with an MNE framing. For the upcoming year, they’re looking forward to several technologies becoming underpinnings of the next evolution of a tech driven economy, including augmented/virtual reality, Internet of Things (IoT), reimagined core systems, autonomic platforms and industrious analytics. (Briggs, B., et. al., 2016)

It’s data asa foundational component of digital transformation” and with analytics now “dominating IT agendas and spend,” analytics may be poised to make the biggest impact to businesses in the coming year. (Briggs, B., et. al., 2016) A 2015 Global CIO Survey by Deloitte Consulting, “polled 1,200 IT executive respondents who identified analytics as both a top investment priority and the IT investment that would deliver the greatest business impact.” (Kark, White, and Briggs, 2015) Looking forward, MNEs will be running multispeed organizations tailored for their markets and environments, while they use complementary technologies of big data, artificial intelligence, business intelligence and analytics to drive their businesses forward on a foundation of data. As every company shifts to becoming digital, economies becomes reliant on this digital shift to underpin and drive growth, reinforcing Andreessen’s earlier claims.

Even politics can’t escape digital disruption. It’s been widely attributed that the presidential campaigns by President Barack Obama were successful in part because of their efforts with attracting voters through the liberal use of social and mobile technologies. A lesson not missed by the campaigns of the 2016 U.S. Presidential candidates. These candidates are copiously using the very same technologies MNEs are using to run their businesses to attract, engage and ultimately coax voters into voting for them. It’s this need for driving a digital political campaign that even lead Secretary, Hillary Clinton to go as far as to hire a previous Google Executive as her head of technology. (Golden, 2015)

If the political campaigns can be compared to the front office, customer facing areas of commercial enterprises, then the use of technology directly and indirectly by governments as a proxy for their political interests and endeavors could be compared to an enterprise's back office. It’s in this back office, where the sausage is made, so to speak, that political battles are actively waged, creating digital democracies.

“After the Arab Spring, the United States and supporting advanced industrialized Western democracies have coordinated since 2011 in launching and financing several initiatives which represent early formation of a multi-stakeholder Internet freedom proto-regime (e.g., the Freedom Online Coalition, the Digital Defenders).” “Under the auspices of the Freedom Online Coalition and the Digital Defenders Partnership, these governments have jointly created formal funding programs of over $100 million to support digital activists working within repressive regimes.” (Hussain, 2014)

Pivoting from the effects of digital disruption on politics, to its impact on climate. Technology and especially the advancement in battery technologies, as well as, the use of Silicon Valley business methodologies from companies such as SolarCity and Tesla Motors towards renewable energy and transportation are creating meaningful shifts away from the use of fossil fuels. As technology has evolved and digital innovations afford advancements in efficiencies and decrease renewable energy costs, significant success in migrating off of fossil fuels has lead to the U.S. in 2016 crossing an important threshold, surpassing 1M homes powered in whole or part by solar power. (Fried, 2015)

Although electric vehicles (EV) today make up less than 2% of new vehicle sales globally, with a notable exception in Norway where EV (hybrid, and/or full electric) vehicles represent 22%+ of new vehicles registered in 2015 (Jolly, 2015), almost every major auto manufacturer already has or is planning some form of vehicle electrification. When complemented by locally produced, renewable energy, and local electricity storage made possible from recycled EV batteries as is the case in Tesla’s Powerwall, the EV has the potential to revolutionize how we power personal transportation and homes of the future.

But this future won’t be a Digital Shangri-La. According to Frey and Osborne, (2013) by their “estimates, about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk in the next 10-20 years, for job losses as a result of digital disruption and a shift to new economy jobs. With an accelerating pace of innovation, it’s going to be an imperative for the U.S. workforce to reeducate itself with new economy skills, technologies and methodologies and in the U.S. Government's own best interests to aid its workforce’s transformation.

It’s with this perspective, that this author ask the questions, will you be ready for the new economy jobs? Will you invest in your own or your team's educational needs to face this challenge? Can you or your organization risk, not having the skills that are necessary in the next 10-20 years?

Take this short survey to see if you're ready for the challenge of new economy jobs!

Andreessen, M. (2011, August 20). Why Software Is Eating The World. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from

Briggs, B., et. al., (2016, March 2). Tech Trends 2016: Innovating in the digital era (Publication). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from Garner Consulting, LLP. website: A Publication of: Deloitte University Press

Frey, C. B., & Osborne, M. A. (September 2013). THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO . COMPUTERISATION? Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from

Fried, R. (2015, December 4). U.S. Crosses Threshold: One Million Homes Have Solar . Retrieved March 16, 2016, from

Golden, H. (2015, April 9). Competition for Tech Talent Heats Up with Clinton's Google Hire. Retrieved 2016, from


Jolly, D. (2015). Norway Is a Model for Encouraging Electric Car Sales. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from

Kark, K., White, M., & Briggs, B. (2015, November 3). 2015 global CIO survey: Creating legacy. (Rep.). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from Deloitte Consulting, LLP. website: A Publication of: Deloitte University Press

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