Digital technology has democratized access to resources unlike any technology that came before it. Democratizing access to resources lowers the barriers to innovation and enables everybody to partake in the ensuing prosperity.
There are five forces that act as equalizers in the digital age:
- Open source
- Mobile and Cloud
- Artificial Intelligence
- Remote Work
These five forces of democratization create infinite possibilities enabling a digital world that is free of geographic boundaries.
Internet – Democratizes access to information
The internet leveled the playing field between the developed and emerging economies. People all over the world have the same level of access to information regardless of where they reside. The newfound access to information dramatically increased the rate of creating new products and almost nullified the cost of discovering and reaching new markets. The internet became the electricity of the digital age and sparked the growth of new industries and business models.
Open source – Democratizes access to innovation
Open source fundamentally changed the course of the technology industry. For the first time, individuals could build upon existing ideas and assemble products instead of rebuilding every product from scratch. It gave companies and programmers worldwide access to innovation and also the ability to enhance it. Contrary to belief, open source software turned out to be more secure and scalable than ‘black-box’ proprietary software.
Mobile and Cloud – Democratizes access to services
Although the internet provided ‘electricity’ for digital services, cloud and mobile acted as the “grid” and the “light-bulbs” that helped with last mile delivery. Using the power of combinatoric innovation, mobile and cloud services gave rise to entirely new business models like taxi-on-demand and mobile-payments. The ease of access to cloud-backed services through mobile devices popularized the notion of platform ecosystems and the resulting network effects. Countries such as India, China and Indonesia leapfrogged the PC industry and adopted mobile as the primary digital device.
Artificial Intelligence – Democratizes access to better decisions
The democratization of AI augments human decision making and reduces process inefficiencies. The exponential increase of data arising from a multitude of sources (IoT, applications, mobile, etc.) prevents our ability to make sound decisions. AI has enabled all organizations, big and small, to consume AI capabilities as either embedded services or build their own through open source APIs. The speed and accuracy of AI-enabled decision-making acts as the great equalizer.
Remote work – Democratizes access to Talent and Customer Reach
Remote work will usher in a new era of work style where organizations are no longer constrained to talent in specific geographies. On a recent client call, a CEO said their ability to attract world-class talent saw quality improvements on multiple levels. They realized the following benefits –
- Focus on quality of talent as opposed to location of talent
- Increased quality of ideas due to increased diversity of talent
- Enhanced quality of customer-reach due to localized services
Remote work is not merely a way for employees to work from home; it is also the ability for organizations to reach customers everywhere.