WE SHOULD AVOID REPEAT OF THE KODAK MOMENT
Digitalisation has invaded our lives, whether we like it or not
DIGITAL methods are invading our lives, our businesses and our culture. During the modernisation of Europe where the imperial measurement was slowly being replaced by the metric system, many regarded it (digitalisation) to be demonic.
It (digitalisation) will affect our lives to the core of existence, it was said. Well, guess what?
The digital system has made its way into many aspects of our lives, which include, but is not limited to, education, medical field, manufacturing, agriculture, documentation, communication, entertainment, religion and the military.
Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates recently warned the world to be prepared for the age of robots and artificial intelligence (AI). The next disruption wave may be as soon as within five to 10 years.
Imagine the implications of such a revolution on digitally exposed operations.
For example, we have many companies employing thousands of employees... these companies can easily embark on a pervasive digital strategy and just overnight, those thousands of employees can lose their jobs. In the name of efficiency, that should happen, but with the humanitarian consideration (avoiding people losing jobs), it may take some time.
Meanwhile, the leaner companies may just go ahead.
The inertia of thousands of employees is too strong for the ship to sail to an alternative route. On the other hand, a lean-staff structure is agile and able to adapt to changes.
Hence the digital dilemma. Do we or do we not make sacrifices to embrace digitalisation of everything that we do?
We have learned from the past that such changes are inevitable. We should avoid a repeat of the Kodak moment. Kodak invented digital photography. In fact, the first photo of Earth was taken by Kodak’s digital technology. They, however, were too scared to lose their conventional film sales, which contributed almost 90 per cent of their sales.
In the end, the inevitable happened — they went bankrupt as digital cameras swamped global photography behaviour.
There are many other examples. We have Uber, for instance, which sees traditional taxi drivers facing a severe threat of obsolescence.
Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon TV and iFlix are now major contenders to disrupt the television and cinema kings across the globe. Online news portals are digging the graves of newspaper companies. E-commerce companies in retailing, such as Amazon, Lazada, Zalora and many others, are keeping the high streets slow. What more examples do we want?
TUESDAY, MAY 30, 2017
We also can see that the way to do business has gone through so many evolutionary phases that include production specialisation during the European Industrial Revolution; diversification of skills of post-war Germany and Japan; marketing-intensive branding as led by the Americans of Madison Avenue; and finally, the demonic digitalisation we face today.
The fact is, it is happening whether we like it or not.
What we have discussed so far sounds pretty global and we may think that it will take sometime before it reaches our shores (Malaysia). Wrong! It reached, a long time ago — waiting to devour our conventional and traditional ways of doing things.
Perhaps, in an effort to convince ourselves, we ought to scan for some empirical evidence? Sure, why not? Let us see. Malaysia has a 30 million population and the number of mobile devices is 60 million. Malaysia has, on average, five debit or credit cards per household that facilitate Internetbased commerce. Malaysia is ranked as one of the top countries in the world for social media usage. The Malaysian government has made a conscious effort to boost digitalisation via initiatives such as the Multimedia Super Corridor, high-speed broadband and, most pervasively, computer science education as early as primary school.
So, as you can see, what Zuckerberg and Gates predicted will come true. What we see in
We are in the age of total chaos, and every minute of denial will make us lose even more by the day — unless we ride the wave and hope to reach the beach in one piece.
The author is the chief executive officer of MyCreative Ventures, the government investment arm that aims to spur Malaysia’s creative industry via strategic and innovative funding through equity or debt investments
Malaysia has, on average, five debit or credit cards per household that facilitate Internet-based commerce.