Travelling towards the future is unavoidable.
The march of time means that, sooner or later, we’ll end up in a world unrecognisable to modern eyes.
But what shape it takes is in our control.
Whether we get a technological utopia or a bleak dystopia will depend upon how we approach the world.
Fortunately, digital transformation companies I’ve worked with are working to make that world better.
By helping traditional companies transform themselves for the digital age, they’re not just dragging the economy into the future, but helping to ensure that it’s a positive future.
One of the biggest global problems is the digital divide.
The digital divide is something more profound than just a question of whether or not you have access to the internet.
It is now a question of whether you can benefit from digital technology.
The regions that are most affected by the digital divide are those provincial areas whose workforce and communities are most impacted by automation and e-commerce.
People might have lost their jobs to automation and their local community may have seen its downtown decimated by e-commerce.
They’re being left behind.
And, as we have seen with Brexit, Donald Trump, Italy, Poland, Hungary and Brazil, people that feel excluded turn to extreme politics.
If people feel like they can’t affect the world around them then they become disenchanted, fearful, and angry.
That makes them vulnerable to the lure of far-right populist demagogues, men and women who take hold of that frustration, stir it up into rage, and use it to target vulnerable groups.
It’s an ugly way to gain power, but it’s one we’re seeing far too often, one that’s playing out on every continent. It’s the same sort of politics that Europe saw in the 1930s, when social, religious, and racial minorities were blamed for Europe’s problems, leading to rule by horrifying regimes.
Digital transformation can help to counter those trends.
Modern technology is designed to be empowering.
From the free flow of information to the ability to access services online, it makes it easier for people to have their voices heard and to shape the world around them.
When it’s done right, it leaves people feeling in control of their lives.
That’s why digital transformation is so important.
Both for people running businesses and for people accessing their services, it smooths out the bumps that can cause frustrations, large and small.
It helps people to engage with their world, and so not to feel the disenfranchisement that fuels hate.
They can access government services as well as those provided by the private sector. They can book the appointments they need, find the services that will help them, and raise complaints when things go wrong.
The digital world is one that enfranchises its citizens.
Extremists thrive on division, and technology, when implemented correctly, helps to overcome those divisions. It can be used to show people the world from others’ points of view, letting them see how much others are like themselves.
Blog posts and YouTube videos might seem like small things, but in aggregate they become huge.
Studies have shown that exposure to a variety of backgrounds and cultures helps to build empathy. Once that empathy is built, it’s harder to hate. We don’t see other groups as so different to us. Instead, we focus on the ways that we’re alike.
Technology is building a more interconnected world, and that’s a good influence.
Businesses now work with clients around the globe. People socialise with others from every walk of life, through the great talking shop of social media.
While that space can be used to polarise and stir up hate, when it’s done right, it can make us more connected to others, more invested in them, more reliant upon them.
When our own lives involve entertainment and products from around the world, we’re less likely to turn our backs on other countries. It’s in our best interest to stay connected and to stay cooperative.
Technology doesn’t just make that possible, it makes it visible. Yes, there are politicians trying to turn back that tide, but the results are already creating backlashes against them. We love our interconnected lives.
All of this feeds into what the world most needs right now – stability.
The more secure and stable people’s lives are, the less vulnerable they are to the extremists.
People who feel secure, politically, socially, and financially, behave in ways that are more considerate of others. Because they’re not worried about how they can get by, they’re not pushed towards selfishness out of fear and anxiety.
In a more immediate sense, digital transformation saves jobs.
Companies that can’t keep up with the modern world will fail, leaving employees feeling bitter and looking for someone to blame.
Digital transformation consultants can help traditional businesses look at their future with fresh eyes. They can help them visualise new products that will enable them to make the leap into the future.
If we can help these companies transform and flourish in the modern world, then we save employees from a shock that could leave them vulnerable to extremists.
The world can be a scary place and fear pushes people to extremes.
But through the power of digital transformation, we can bring people together, protect prosperity, and avoid hate.