While only a couple of sectors of the economy have experienced dramatic changes over the last 30 years due to digital innovation, the emerging challenges and opportunities are exploding as a current wave of digital disruption is forcing industries to transform or die.
Jordan Mullen is a digital strategist and Founder of Thrive Digital and coach for The New Economy. He helps businesses and Christian ministries re-engineer their operating models to fully leverage the opportunities available through digital technologies. Jordan provides five keys to thriving in the New Economy.
How is the economy being transformed by digital technology?
The speed now which businesses can emerge and disrupt whole industries is at an unprecedented level. Amazon, Google, Netflix and Facebook are all examples of companies that were able to capitalise on digital innovation and shake-up their industries, eventually dominating their sectors. However, even these well-known multinational companies, took several years to displace the market leaders of their day.
In the last couple of years and into the future, it will become commonplace for new businesses to completely overthrow existing market players through the innovative solutions they offer consumers. As an example, consider the speed that newcomer Instagram had on the photography business. In 15 months, Instagram, a simple photo app, was able to accumulate more than 130 million users, sharing some 16 billion photos. Eventually selling to Facebook for $1 billion in April 2012, only a few days later Kodak, the Instagram of its day declared bankruptcy.
It’s not just businesses that are at risk. It is estimated that 44% of Australian jobs are likely to be displaced in the next 10 to 15 years due to automation. According to global market intelligence firm IDC, 50% of global GDP will be digitised as early as 2021.
Jordan Mullen has witnessed these changes that threaten to dismantle businesses and cause widespread job losses. Here he explains how to embrace the changes ahead so you can ride the wave of disruption.
Key 1: Become More Collaborative
Operating in the new economy requires constant collaboration and networking with a broad range of individuals and businesses that have complementary skill sets. Jordan points to the Jewish community and how businesses thrive as they work together to support and create meaningful work for one another. This is a Kingdom mindset and is about recognising that each person in the community has value since they are created in God’s image. It’s all about building trust within a community and ensuring that no-one is left behind or suffers financial hardship. This removes the fear and anxiety that can often come with automation, as people face becoming forever locked out of the economy with no skills to contribute.
Key 2: Cultivate a Culture of Innovation
The ability to problem-solve utilising the power of the internet and automation will be key to surviving digital technology disruption. One thing that computers can’t do is be creative and generate new ideas. As Spirit-filled believers, we are better positioned than most to come up with breakthrough business concepts that can produce income and bring about positive societal transformation.
Scaling new solutions is made possible by the multiple platforms available that make it cheaper to enter new locations or launch innovative products and services. This is where business owners and leaders of Christian ministries must now start to foster a culture in their organisations, where innovation and “stepping out of the boat” is encouraged. According to Jordan, every organisation needs a digital front end as most people today are spending the major part of their time behind a screen.
Key 3: Update Your Skillset
Businesses and individuals alike will need to review their current capabilities and identify what skills they are required to develop or source in the next 2-5 years. Staying with those at the list should, regardless of which industry you operate in, be digital fluency. This requires not only becoming up-to-date with the latest digital technologies, but also understanding how these technologies can transform your business processes so that your organisation remains viable.
As information abounds, communications skills will also prove essential, as it will only be the best communicators that will transcend the noise and reach their targeted audiences. Through consulting to various businesses and not-for-profits, Jordan has seen how utilising the power of online communications once you have developed the right messages, can result in a surge of new clients and users for your product or service.
Finally, Jordan adds the need to adapt is a non-negotiable skill that without it, the other skills are of little use.
Key 4: Find an Experienced Mentor
For most people, change can be difficult. When it comes to how you operate your business or what job you do, the transition to something new and unknown can seem overwhelming. This is where finding a suitable coach that can assist you in navigating the challenges and teething issues that arise when you adopt a new modus operandi is vital. Jordan offers coaching services as part of The New Economy as he sees that training people not only in new skills but how to think more laterally about their circumstances is fundamental to safeguarding their economic future.
Key 5: Take Good Risks Not Bad Risks
While the old way of operating is dead, there are “good risks and bad risks” that people can take while making the transition into the new economy. Jordan points to the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30 as a useful illustration of the very real cost of taking no risks.
Jordan adds, “The longer you wait, the more vulnerable you become”. That doesn’t mean you take uncalculated risks. If you start to build something too quickly, especially if it’s a new business, you may not have adequate resources to get the project off the ground.
Jordan gives the same advice to a Christian employee wanting to quit their day job. “It’s important to be prepared before you make any sudden changes. I always recommend my clients have a financial buffer and not put their families on the line just because they have an interesting business concept. They need to test things out first and see if there is actually demand for their product or service.” That said, Jordan has seen significant benefits for Christians becoming freelancers who were stuck in jobs that were facing automation in the immediate horizon.
Jordan finishes his analysis by encouraging businesses and individuals to act now and start to make the changes that are needed to remain relevant and develop in a rapidly changing digital landscape. “It just shifts the focus of what you do” says Jordan. “It’s something to look forward to for those who are prepared. As work becomes so centrally managed by digital technology, there are some big opportunities for Christians to take a step up in the marketplace and become more effective in the Kingdom of God.”
About Jordan Mullen
Jordan Mullen is a coach at the The New Economy. He has run his own digital company for 12 years, advising and coaching businesses and not-for-profits in how to transform their business model so that it can thrive during digital disruption.
Featured image: Shutterstock.