Digitization allows physical objects or characteristics to be visualized and controlled through data, blurring ownership lines. Data owners now have increasing control over object owners. This new information power balance goes beyond digital and physical realms, changing the social framework.
Digital disruption is transforming traditional business models and the fabric of society. Prime examples of this shift are Uber and Airbnb, which have significantly changed the transportation and lodging industries.
Behind the rise of digital innovation are technological advances allowing the capture of objects as data, which subsequently make it easier to control things and solve problems. For example, the low-cost launching of compact satellites by reusable vehicles are about to become a reality. This in turn will allow the collection of more data, improving the accuracy of weather forecasting and the prediction of natural disasters such as typhoons and hurricanes. Advances in digitization may also make possible the use of human voice and facial expressions to understand emotions, and/or brain-wave data to learn an individual’s thoughts and desires at a deep psychological level. Our society and businesses are now in the midst of revolutionary changes, tearing down traditional business frameworks and creating a new balance of power.
One of the impacts that the digital revolution is having on society is a power shift in who controls data. Technological advancements in tools for visualizing information, previously accessible only by a select group of industry experts, now are available to everyone. This shift makes it easier for new players to enter the marketplace and democratizes data ownership across a variety of fields. It is transforming the fabric and structure of industry today.
In the healthcare industry the power to control medical information is transitioning from the hospital to the individual. For instance, patient laboratory information has traditionally been managed by hospitals, with patients paying fees and spending time and effort to obtain copies. Now systems are becoming widely available that consolidate patient health records, making them available on smart devices. As a result, patients are able to manage their own health information. The system even allows patients to disclose medical information to other, trusted physicians and hospitals to receive medical advice. This access stems from the emergence of a new technology that protects medical information while enabling its distribution. Both a global IT company and healthcare companies are providing such services that have applications in many industries.
Another example of a transferal of information control is taking place in car manufacturing. One company is focused on becoming a platform for mobility services by consolidating data around the automobile, transforming the concept into a “mobility space” as a retail platform for shopping, movie theaters and restaurants. Expanding the idea of the automobile from simple transportation into a platform for services will benefit multiple sectors. However, such a transformation has the potential to exclude the services associated with the car manufacture itself, enabling new global leaders to emerge.
Merging of the digital and physical worlds has allowed a change in the power to control physical spaces. With the help of XR1 space, humans can now act and communicate beyond physical boundaries, working alongside and connecting with people in remote locations regardless of time and geography. This space also permits us to virtually recreate scenes and experiences that are difficult to replicate in the physical world.
A variety of industries are adopting the head-mounted, holographic display needed to enter an XR space. For example, people in the construction industry can use a 3D hologram during the design phase of a building to view it from all angles in its completed state and to actually walk inside the building. In addition, architects and builders will soon be able to remotely join the construction site as avatars in order to share real-time information with others. Similarly in the manufacturing industry, XR allows remote employees who work at production sites that may be inaccessible due to harsh conditions to share personalized knowledge and skills. Digitization has the power to provide greater access to many things, allowing individuals to transcend the physical limitations of being human.
1 A collective term for technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR).
Paradigm-changing, digital-driven innovations are transforming traditional business models and interactions with customers. For instance, Mobility as a Service (MaaS)2 has the potential to transform the way we experience travel itself. The current goal is to create a one-stop reservation system for public transportation and air travel, eventually linking this service to a self-driving car that can be dispatched when passengers are one mile from a given destination. Connecting this to a sharing service will also enable customers to incorporate preferred services into travels and tours, thereby building a customized experience. In the near future, it may become commonplace to seamlessly travel within cities and regions across entire countries and the globe.
Platformers and startup companies not bound by conventional values are becoming leading competitors in this business transformation. Along with these new players, well-established organizations and local governments that are responsible for infrastructure will leverage digital technology to become a driving force for social change.
2 Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a movement to combine self-driving cars, AI, open data and other technologies, and integrate the conventional transport and travel means with sharing services to create next-generation transportation.
In a digitally advanced society, physical and spatial constraints will disappear, enabling borderless innovation across countries and corporations. Furthermore, the advancement of this trend removes the boundaries between existing industrial structures, further driving transformation and creating new business and social systems.