Introduction: The Digital Past, Present and Future

When smartphones and social media emerged in the mid-2000s, could we have foreseen that digital would change everything? That just ten years later, it would have permeated every aspect of society and business?

Digital technology has enabled new business models, reinventing entire industries. It has pushed customer expectations to new levels, leading us to expect personalised and effortless experiences. Traditional operating models have been outpaced by the speed of digital innovation and change. Over recent years, digital businesses have become increasingly efficient, generated superior returns, attracted significant amounts of capital and changed industry dynamics.

“The pivot to digital has been supercharged.” 1
Jane Fraser, President, Citigroup

Then 2020 happened. And this time, the world changed almost overnight.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, economies were put on hold. Millions of people around the world were confined to their homes. Workforces moved to homeworking en masse. Stores closed. Travel stopped. Global commerce was turned upside down.

In this transformed climate, digital businesses were better able to adapt. They were better prepared for the shift to homeworking. Digital channels didn’t close; they welcomed more customers. Their revenues were more resilient. And they were better positioned to understand – and meet – customers’ changing needs.

We all know the stories. The world flocked to Amazon. Netflix and Disney+ subscriptions shot up. Ocado delivery slots were like gold dust. BooHoo boomed. PayPal soared as cash disappeared. Deliveroo became the answer for every big night in.

As success stories surfaced, so did the bad news. Primark’s revenues plunged as stores remained closed. Pret a Manger suffered as commuters stayed at home. Cinemas, restaurants, hotels and bars remained closed. Debenhams tipped over the edge.

For years now, digital businesses have disrupted industries, stolen market share and generated returns – while traditional businesses have fought to reduce costs, digitise and transform. Digital has created winners and losers from the outset. And in a pandemic-affected world, the gulf between the two has widened.

Business Models & Ecosystems

Digital has... .. shattered traditional value chains and revenue streams, forging new connections and business models that cut across industry silos

Propositions & Experiences

Digital has... .. disrupted customer relationships and journeys, setting new expectations for how we engage customers and meet their needs

Platforms & Data

Digital has... ..transformed every organisation into a technology organisation seeking to differentiate themselves through platforms and data

Organisational Alignment

Digital has... ..unleashed a speed of change in a world of volatility and uncertainty that requires a paradigm shift in traditional management systems