Are there some fundamental laws for digitisation?

As we have learned in through the development of other sciences, fundamental laws emerge which help us make sense of evolution. Digitisation many would argue is still in it’s infancy, but there may be sufficient examples to start to identify some candidate fundamental laws. In the HBR Paper “New Patterns for Innovation”, we identified the 5 atomic business model patterns that result from applying digitisation. They continue to serve well in developing the innovation strategy within a business. However, are there more fundamental laws at play here?

The first candidate law seems to be that data has gravity. Technopedia has a good summary as does this McGrory’s blog. So the amount of data you have is important, and how you use this continually attract new data and increase the gravitational effect. The risk of course is that having too little data, will result in the data being subsumed by a larger pull of data. The effort required to ensure that this data remains distinct, relevant, and current can be determined.

The second candidate law is what can be digitised, will be digitised. Digitisation increase the understanding of the thing being digitised. It guides the improvement and optimisation. In some cases digitisation replaces the physical object. Think of the bus ticket. 40 years ago you would see conductors on the bus taking a passengers money in return for a printed paper ticket. Digitisation led to the creation of ticket machines that provided machine readable cards, then to contact-less travel cards and now apps on phones.

This leads us nicely to the third and final candidate law – what ever is digitised, tends to become free. The wired article Free! Why $0.00 is the future business model provides a compelling case. In his book “The Curve”, Nicholas Lovell explains how to make money when everything is going free. Daniel Pink in “A Whole Mind” discusses the 3 A’s of Automation, Abundance and Aisa that is driving the need for whole mind thinking. The underlying narrative is how individuals need to find ways to remain valuable when digitisation in the form of automation is driving out costs.

As a Digital Leader, these three laws can help guide you in the development of your strategies and plans to:

  1. Use digitisation to disrupt established industries
  2. Identify the risks of digitisation and develop mitigating plans
  3. Transform your business to remain relevant and valuable.
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