The world is on the cusp of another “digital tsunami”, according to Steven Burdon, professor of strategic management and technology at the University of Technology in Sydney.
Professor Burdon was speaking at an event in Sydney yesterday on how Australian organisations can best prepare for, and react to, major digital disruption.
Following the commercialisation of the web between 1995 and 2003, Professor Burdon said: “I believe we’re on the cusp of a second tsunami, a change in the digital age.”
The key indicator of change, he said, is that the evolution of web services and products has rendered them ubiquitous, cheap and easily combined and recombined.
“I believe there are signs that we’re ready for another one, and some people [John McAfee, Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey] are arguing that it’s going to be bigger this time,” he said.
Labelling the change as an “intelligent software revolution”, Prof Burdon said industries must prepare to be restructured, noting current examples like education with the introduction of MOOCs (massive online open courses), banking and finance racing to keep control of sensitive data, and telecommunications facing major changes thanks to mobile services and personal apps.
“We’ve got WhatsApp now - that took nearly a billion dollars out of telcos' profits - bang, just like that. And what the hell do they do? They’re focusing on it,” he said.
“[Telstra] now spends 50 per cent of each board meeting discussing future strategy and most of it about how technology is going to change.”
Referring to a recent report by the Harvard Business Review, which demonstrated Australia is losing momentum in the digital realm and risks falling behind, Prof Burdon advised organisations expecting to undergo fundamental transformation should face the challenges with a winning attitude.
“It’s not about facilitating, it’s about leading – a big change,” he said. “Don’t be scared by it, it’s an opportunity as well… You need a positive approach.”