* Mohammad Dergham
Just two decades into the era of internet connectivity, consumers now expect not just instant online access to information, contacts, and goods and services from anywhere in the world; they expect these interactions to be intuitively organized, managed and presented for them, without ever having to ask. In the Networked Society everyone, everything and everywhere will be connected in real time.
There is little question that technology has the potential to fundamentally transform how people organize their lives, businesses and societies. But only recently have some of the most powerful technologies ever created become intensely personal – they are now embedded not just into mobile devices and cloud software, but into everyday expressions, interactions, relationships and exchanges. The result is an unprecedented capacity for individual empowerment, entrepreneurship and innovation.
Like the preindustrial and industrial worlds that preceded it, the Networked Society represents a fundamental paradigm shift for people, business and society. In this shift, new resources are continuously discovered, new forms of value are unleashed, and the most basic logics of life and business are transformed as a result. The Networked Society encourages co-creation through user contributions – ranging from content, feedback and co-creation, to a wealth of new data flows.
Hence, in tomorrow’s networked economy, the key enablers of growth and innovation come not from physical assets and infrastructures, but from the people, platforms and insights that are leveraged to reinvent them. This represents a shift from static objects to dynamic services, from physical communities to digital networks and from centralized production to distributed knowledge.
In the years ahead, technology platforms are expected to emerge in many more areas as network logics are applied into new spaces including connected things, industries and practices. Everything from business models and product categories to financing and human resources will be forced to reinvent itself.
The digital economy, which now makes up a sizable and growing share of the world economy, will continue to contribute to substantial efficiency improvements in the current industrialized model over the coming years. Looking further ahead, however, digital technologies have the potential to bring about a new post-industrial logic in which ICT will make even more significant contributions to social and economic progress. Equipped with a new array of technological enablers, there is now a rare opportunity to reinvent those industrial logics and social institutions that no longer serve the user well.
In such times of rapid change, thoughtful discussion and forward-thinking visions are more necessary than ever.. Empowered individuals and communities are the drivers of fundamental change. This is leading to business opportunities and solutions that are addressing global challenges such as urbanization, poverty, access to education and health care, climate change and our use of natural resources. ICT is the fundamental enabler of this transformation and progress.
The key players in the Networked Society are those who understand its requirements and have the ability to rethink, reinvent and innovate in order to seize the opportunity of this value-creating ecosystem. Only by recognizing the fundamental social transformations now taking place, and by involving communities in defining the way forward, will these unprecedented technological resources be steered toward the greater benefit of people, business and society.
* Head of Ericsson North Middle East Region