The world becomes more digital every day – and so does the world of business. Therefore, it is vital for businesses to understand which new technologies are available, appropriate, and optimal in the context of the organisation and its business environment.
Furthermore, a successful digital transformation is a cultural and organisational transformation, says Professor Tina Blegind from Copenhagen Business School, CBS. She highlights that digital workplace design is a key enabler for companies when organising for digitalisation.
According to Associate Professor, Mari-Klara Stein, there are two important workforce trends that we need to consider when designing the workplace of the future. The first trend refers to the increasing automation of some work tasks and augmentation of others. In both cases the nature of work tasks “left” for humans changes – sometimes for the better in terms of quality of work or its meaningfulness, and sometimes for the worse in terms of work complexity and task variety.
“The biggest possibility here is that carefully designed and ethically considerate automation and augmentation can free up human time and effort for tasks they find more meaningful. The biggest dilemma is that most automation and augmentation efforts are driven by cost and efficiency considerations – and result in a world of work that is significantly less satisfying for humans,” says Mari-Klara Stein.
The second trend refers to the increasing voluntary and involuntary choice of flexible employment by much of the future workforce.
“The biggest possibility is to rethink the entire idea of the “workforce” from an ecosystem perspective, and not as an organisational resource. Organisations, platforms, freelancers, gig workers, contractors, part-time workers, etc. – they are all actors in the workforce ecosystem and the often antagonistic and divisive thinking around managers and employees should be a thing of the past,” says Mari-Klara Stein.
So with careful and critical thinking, we can design a better world of work for the future by building on these two trends, concludes Tina Blegind Jensen.
One of the most disrupted industries today is healthcare. The question is how this sector best deals with tech disruptions and turn them into new business opportunities.
“Great potential lies in technologies such as sensors and wearable devices, which offer new opportunities for predicting, preventing, and personalising healthcare services,” says Assistant Professor Christiane Lehrer.
While these new technologies sound promising for both patients and public budgets, they also entail new ways of working for health professionals and new responsibilities for patients, and require a whole new way of thinking.
“To seize the opportunities offered by digital health technologies, different stakeholders such as hospitals, municipalities, insurers, patients and technology providers need to work closely together,” says Christiane Lehrer.
A new area in which digitalisation is also advancing an entire industry is in sports
“The professional sports industry is different from other businesses in many aspects, and such differences can help us understand the opportunities and challenges of utilising data analytics and related technologies in sports,” says Associate Professor Xiao Xiao.
Data is abundant in sports, and there has been a long tradition to use data as talking points. However, at the same time, sports is characterised by its uncertainties and randomness – we can never predict the outcome of a football match. Therefore, businesses have to consider carefully how to navigate through such uncertainties to understand what data to collect and which analytics are useful. Setting up appropriate criteria in evaluating return of investment has become both opportunities to pursue and challenges to overcome.
Blockchain and smart contracts are another example of technologies that are used to reframe the prevailing business models and to drive a new digital economy.
“Blockchain and smart contracts are used to automate transactions of digital assets, develop new financial instruments, facilitate and record real estate sales, escrow, insurance contracts, logistics and supply chain management. Blockchain and smart contracts can be used also to provide digital ID, facilitate voting, secure IP rights, and enable decentralised organisations. These are just a few examples,” says Professor Michel Avital.
The Quality of data
In the current competitive business environment, decision makers need to make decisions quickly and effectively based on abundant data. Consequently, the quality of data is important if companies want to be successful in improving their value creation. Professor Ioanna Constantiou gives examples on how organisations can improve the value creation from data:
“Digital technologies enable real-time data collection, which offer a rich representation of an individual’s activities in the physical space. Aggregating and analysing this data offers a constant stream of information about the individual’s behaviours that combined with other business resources offers opportunities for digital innovations such as new data services to cover unmet consumers’ needs.”
Remember the ethical considerations
When it comes to responsible digitalisation, the most important ethical consideration for organisations is to create the awareness that, no matter what we are doing, we will very likely be implicated in harmful practices, says Associate Professor Attila Márton:
“Tech blogger Cory Doctorow compares the digital infrastructure and the addition of AI applications on top of it to building a house with asbestos in the walls. It is a toxic, leaky and insecure setup, yet we cannot wait for it to decide for us how to run businesses, treat patients, educate students, raise children, judge court cases, create policies, and elect politicians. There is no such thing as clean digital technology; and the point is to notice and become responsive to the costs that come with digital technology, which are usually paid by somebody else too weak or uninformed to defend themselves”, concludes Attila Márton.