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Post-digital era. Apple computer with do more on the screen in an office

The Post-Digital Era Rises

We are at the dawn of the post-digital era. Digital maturity is no longer a competitive advantage. It is the new normal. The balance of the scales has tipped. Digital maturity used to be a plus point - a driver of growth and a way to beat the competition. But not any more. Now it is just the absolute minimum standard a business must meet in order to survive and thrive. 

Today’s consumers are used to digital innovation. They expect it. And they expect it to improve all the time. Businesses now have to meet the constantly evolving, constantly increasing expectations of consumers. Customers expect hyper personalised products and services that they can access whenever and however they want them, and instantly.  

Product deliveries are a clear example of this. A few years ago the average product bought online would take several days to arrive. Then Amazon made next day delivery the new normal with the introduction of their Prime service. They later introduced their order fulfilment services for business, so that any business can offer next day delivery as standard. Same day delivery followed soon after, introduced by Argos. The latest development is from Amazon. They are trialling drone use in China to make deliveries within an hour of ordering. Any business that takes more than 24 hours to deliver is now long behind the times, and falling short of customer expectation. Same day delivery will soon be the new normal.

post-digital era quote

In the post-digital era, the pace of change is accelerating even faster. Technology is being used to craft customer experiences in ways we could not previously have imagined. Here are some of the key differentiators of the post-digital era: 

DARQ Technologies

DARQ is a powerhouse of new technologies. We know from history that when we have a combination of powerful new tech becoming available at the same time, great things happen. DARQ technologies include:

  1. Distributed ledger technology 
  2. Artificial Intelligence 
  3. Extended Reality 
  4. Quantum Computing 

89% of businesses are already experimenting with one or more DARQ technologies, expecting them to be key differentiators:

DARQ graph post digital era which will have biggest impact

While each of the individual emerging technologies that make up DARQ are at a different point on the adoption curve, it is clear that the first wave of companies using DARQ technologies to drive differentiation is already here. Once the collective power of DARQ begins to manifest itself, it might be too late for adopters who lag behind to catch up. DARQ will allow leaders in the post-digital era to reimagine their businesses. In order to be ready to harness the power of DARQ, businesses must begin their journeys with these technologies now, or they will have missed the opportunity. 

1. Distributed Ledger Technology

Distributed ledger technology is an append only data storage mechanism where data is stored at multiple locations on a shared network. In theory, this allows data to be stored more securely and transparently. It eliminates the need for trusted third parties. Cryptocurrencies are the best known examples of distributed ledger technologies. Data is an area that is attracting more public attention. People are becoming more aware of the importance of data, and the implications that the collection of mass personal data can and will have on the world, and on their personal lives. Even the toilet is becoming a method of data collection - collecting personal medical samples from users. It is unclear how our notion of privacy will develop around data harvesting, but technology will have to adapt to changing views over time.

2. Artificial Intelligence 

The rise of AI is allowing us to solve problems that humans have been trying and failing to solve for decades. AI is a powerful problem solving tool. But it does have drawbacks. It is prone to embedding bias in processes and decision making. The AI is only as good as the data it is trained on, and the humans who collected that data and trained it. There are serious risks that AI embeds bias, particularly unconscious bias, in dangerous ways. Read about some of the recent developments in artificial intelligence here. Nevertheless, AI has presented businesses with a powerful opportunity to solve problems. Those who adopt this technology early will have a competitive edge. 

3. Extended Reality 

Extended reality includes Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. Extended reality is offering new opportunities to create immersive customer experiences. In the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, for example, we saw galleries experimenting with Extended Reality to give people the gallery visiting experience from home, in the midst of a global pandemic. 

4. Quantum Computing 

Quantum computing is mind boggling, and you really need to be a quantum physicist as much as a computer science expert in order to understand its full potential. Quantum computing is ideal for solving complex problems. It uses quantum algorithms which create multidimensional spaces where subtle patterns emerge that can link individual data points. In being able to solve problems that are too complex even for supercomputers, quantum computing has enormous potential. 

Hyper Personalisation

post-digital era hyper personalisation with mum and child in background

We live in a world where we share our data with people we don’t know every day. There are records of what websites we visit, what groceries we buy, even what we search for online. All of this data is out there, existing, being collected and added to every day. This creates huge opportunities for businesses to understand their customers and create more appealing, more useful or more effective products for them. 83% of business and IT executives agree that digital demographics give their organisations a new way to identify market opportunities for unmet customer needs.  This level of data and digital touch points is providing more opportunities for contact between businesses and individual consumers. It is allowing a new sort of relationship between business and consumer to be built. The post-digital goal is for businesses to become an ongoing life partner for their customers, rather than aiming for a single transaction.

This also raises serious issues around privacy. The law is a slow moving beast at the best of times, but when you compare legal progress to digital progress the comparison is even more stark. Legal systems simply cannot keep up with the pace of digital innovation, so we are effectively in a legal wild west. Ultimately, it will therefore be for businesses to tread the fine line between getting to know their consumer in order to offer them useful, lifelong services, and crossing over the line to what feels like creepy, inappropriate snooping that invades privacy. With the rapid change of innovation and the huge differences in the notion of normal between each generation, it is likely that the line will change rapidly, and businesses must be equipped to keep up with those changes. 

The 'Human+' Worker 

Post-digital era Human+ worker on blue tech background

"Today's workers are empowered not just by skills and knowledge, but also tech-driven capabilities. We call this the "human+ workforce" Michael Blitz,  Managing Director at Accenture Technology Vision

Workers now bring a whole host of technological skills and abilities to their teams. With the addition of the right technology, these skills can be leveraged. But it is a complex balance. There are huge generational differences. A 60 year old CEO will have very different experiences of technology when compared to a 21 year old university leaver. As technology becomes the new normal, in the post-digital era, workforces must keep pace. One big challenge is that it is the younger, more tech savvy and innovative workers who are in the most junior positions. Those leading organisations are likely to be older and far less tech savvy and innovative. Bridging that gap is key to thriving in the post-digital era. Workers must be equipped to embrace technology. To achieve that, leaders must be aware of new developments and willing to embrace them. Traditional company cultures and structures will likely fall behind more innovative, modern and less hierarchical structures. The post-digital era is about embracing tech skills and innovation, not stifling it under 12 layers of management. Agile cultures will be in a position to thrive. Read more about creating company culture here.

Collective Security

Cybersecurity is an increasing risk to businesses. With the rise of data and digital working, an attack on one business often leads to a threat to many others. Businesses will need to work collectively to achieve cyber security. 87% of business and IT executives agree that to be truly resilient, organizations must rethink their approaches to security in a way that defends not just themselves, but their ecosystems. 

Momentary Markets 

post-digital era momentary markets on clock

In the post-digital era every moment is a potential market, and businesses will need to learn to access momentary markets through the utilisation of data, personalisation and relationship building. Businesses must prepare to live, and deliver, in the moment. To do this, they must master the art of predicting the future: getting ahead of the trends and demands before they happen. AI will help to predict future trends, with the help of massive data collection and agile manufacturing. Developing a tech strategy that will allow a business to successfully anticipate the future is what will allow businesses to stay successful, to give them the competitive edge in the post-digital era. 

The Post-Digital Era

Each of these developments and innovations paves the way for the next. The world is evolving at a tremendous pace. Businesses, and individuals, need to get accustomed to constant evolution, innovation and new discoveries. Businesses can’t pick and choose which innovation to embrace: technology is a web and businesses will need to embrace every strand in order to survive and thrive in the post-digital era. Those who weave the most complete, intricate and responsive webs will be the winners. 

The post-digital era is upon us. Those who adapt will thrive. Technology provides great opportunities for those who embrace it. Don’t get overwhelmed. Contact us to see how we can help you embrace digital innovation and technology


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