We don’t use the expression “era of electricity” to refer to the last century anymore. Likewise, we will soon stop using the word “digital” as a synonym for innovation.
When it comes to consumers, that world is no longer used because it is already understood, and soon it will also be in business.
We do not need to use the expression “digital transformation”, because if you are in business, it is obvious that you are investing in digital.
What innovative companies and people involved in innovation should ask themselves is:
What will be the next step?
What awaits us in the post-digital era?
Those who first answer this question will gain a competitive advantage that cannot be filled, just as happened to the companies that first understood the potential of digital.
We see the emergence of many technologies with disruptive potential. However, the change will not be triggered by any of them.
Disruption will arise from the convergence of these technologies.
Let’s see examples of technological convergence and potential scenarios
The DARQ Code
Recently, Accenture has well codified this vision with the acronym of DARQ:
- Distributed Ledger Technology (the technology that underlies the Blockchain)
- Artificial Intelligence
- Extended Reality
- Quantum Computing.
Just like its potential, DARQ applications will be endless in economic, social, and relational systems.
To better understand how it works, let’s take a simple example.
The Cinema of the future
Let’s imagine the cinema of the future: the audience will be an active part of the story and will be wholly immersed in fiction thanks to virtual reality and augmented reality. People will even interact with digital characters equipped with artificial intelligence who will respond and react to their actions. Of course, customers can also book and pay for the ticket through a Blockchain application without relying on intermediaries such as Ticket One or banks.
In the same way, far more dramatic scenarios could open up.
Think about what artificial intelligence combined with the computing power of a quantum computer could do. Imagine how easy it would be to understand your emotional reactions from reading the expressions on your face. Or cross-check your data.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg
Coronavirus has shown how unprepared the world is to face possible pandemics. Imagine how genetic engineering could affect the world by creating new viruses or bacteria.
Those scenarios may sound like science fiction, but most people don’t know that the process has already begun.
Today, through genome editing technologies of relatively simple use such as Crispr-Cas9, it is possible to modify the genome of any living being with surprising ease. The threat of the possibility to face future biological weapons becomes terribly concrete.
The SuperMassive Game company has developed games in which the possibility of interactions is very high. Google, for its part, is developing Duplex, a voice assistant that speaks so humanly that it is difficult to distinguish from artificial intelligence.
Several companies, like IBM and Google, have already created quantum computers.
The disruption of the post-digital era
The world is heading towards the post-digital era. When we get there, the current digital tools will no longer be enough to be competitive. It will not be the individual applications of technologies that will condition the future, but rather their intersection and organic use.
Artificial intelligence already occupies an essential role in the optimization of processes and decision-making. Virtual reality and augmented reality are progressively entering the world of business, entertainment, and even private life. The Blockchain will soon open the networks by eliminating intermediaries and trustees. Finally, the quantum computer will break down any limits in computing power.
When a set of technologies like this converges, change is inevitable.
In the future, we are facing the opportunities will multiply, as will the threats.
The Swiss Institute for Disruptive Innovation truly believes that underestimating disruptive technologies’ impact means repeating the same mistake as those who underestimated the PC, smartphone, social networks, or the cloud.
Now, the most critical question we need to ask ourselves is:
What can we do to face a potential change of this magnitude?
In this case, the answer is very complex, but the first step is simple: to become more aware of what is happening, because the future is more threatening when it comes behind us.