3. The digital revolution

3. The digital revolution


Since the web began in the mid 90s., we are going through this amazing digital revolution. Who could have imagined that Airbnb could become the leader of hotel industry or LinkedIn the leader of hiring industry or training industry ?


Who could have thought that 2 billions people would connect, every day, to the same social network sharing updates, pictures, videos and lives in real time ?


Who could have imagined that one day, we might connect all the daily-life used objects to the same network ? (“We have a dream – Imagine a world where things can communicate with us” – Sigfox)jiraya

When we started our operational and strategic responsabilities like ICT manager, we did believe that the ICT penetration would lead to a more balanced spatial, economic, social development. Indeed, we thought that Internet have technical decentralised features allowing to overcome the physical boundaries, other cultural or functional limitations.

20 y. laters, we were wrong. It’s the inverse. The phenomenal ICT penetration hasten the growing agglomeration and urbanisation of activities by creating and concentrating innovation places (the most famous Silicon Valley of course) within which disruptions and applications had the opportunity to interact in a continuous and accelerating process.

20 y. ago, Manuel Castells (Spanish sociologist), whose trilogy remains one of the best analysis of digital revolution (“informational” in his terms), wrote :

“The informational economy is organised around leading and controlling centres which innovate, coordinate and manage the different industrial network activities. Advanced services, including finance, insurance, real instate, consulting, legal assistance, advertising, industrial design, marketing, public relations, security, business intelligence, IT management, research and innovation are at the core of economic dynamics in all the industries (” (in société en réseaux).

Digital technologies are affecting individuals, businesses, industry sectors (bank, retail trade, real estate with 3D printing, energy, transports, education, training, health, tourism, …) in a far-reaching way.

Investing in ICTs alone is not enough. That’s why the effective use of ICTs requires additional investments in complementary knowledge-based capital, in particular in skills and know-how, organisational change including new business models and processes.While digital innovation brings benefits across society, it may induce disruptive changes that are perceived as too threatening (at least in the short run). Established businesses, in particular, may have too low incentives to invest in ICTs and in the necessary complementary Knowledge Based Capital (KBC) (…) The exploitation of global value chains (GVCs) is thus another complementarity factor besides investments in KBCs that can leverage investments in ICTs for productivity growth. This makes ICTs, KBCs, and GVCs the drivers of productivity growth in 21st century knowledge economies” (OECD, Digital Economy Policy Papers, 2015).

Finally, the digital revolution is making us to change permanently our ways of thinking, acting, interacting, communicating with others, working.

Collaboration, sharing, collective intelligence and participative innovation bring us possibilities to shape a future and collective agenda answering the issues we are facing.

By now, we need to go beyond “smartness” … to see how cities can grasp the digital opportunities.

Manavao – Toulouse, le 3 novembre 2016

Why Manavao.com ? 4. Smart city, smart economy

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