Everybody should be planning their own personal moonshoot

The moment of mass opportunity for value creation has arrived

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 June, 2016, 5:46pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 June, 2016, 6:02pm

History teaches us that the democratisation of access improves society. The most common scholarly example is the printing press – it rapidly spread intellectual thought beyond the realm of a select few, challenging established views on religion and politics, which had a profound effect on socio-economics.

Managers should be thinking: how can I transform society through digital solutions implemented in my business?

The internet is the oft-cited modern day version of an invention that spurred revolutionary changes. It has shaped political and cultural thought via viral viewpoints and transformed business behaviour thanks to efficiency-driven business solutions ranging from Skype to online training.

But I would argue it is the overall advent of digital that is more impactful. Digital transformation provides industry with unparalleled opportunities for value creation. This is due to the plummeting costs of advanced technologies, such as mobile, cloud, artificial intelligence, sensors and analytics, and the powerful compounding effects of these coming together.

Managers should be thinking: how can I transform society through digital solutions implemented in my business?

Accenture and the World Economic Forum estimate a cumulative combined value – to society and industry – of digital transformation across industries will be more than US$100 trillion during the next 10 years. For example e-commerce could generate nearly US$3 billion in savings and productivity improvements for consumers. Digital initiatives will create 3.45 million jobs in the next 10 years in electricity through expansion of energy storage and the management of networks and assets. In logistics, the implementation of digital platforms that enable cross-border trade and crowd sourcing of logistics routes could together create approximately 4 million jobs. From industry to industry the possibilities of growth are myriad if digital solutions are applied.

And there are ancillary benefits to society. Digital in logistics alone has the opportunity to reduce emissions by 10 per cent by 2025. Digital initiatives in the industries we examined could deliver an estimated 26.3 billion metric tonnes of net avoided CO2 emissions from 2016 to 2025. This is almost equivalent to the CO2 emitted by all of Europe across that time period.

Meanwhile, as this unfolds, societies will still face the social unrest of shifting jobs due to both geographies and different generations of workers. Education, capital markets and tax policies will play a critical role in either accelerating or slowing down such revolutionary transitions.

Collaboration within ecosystems of enterprises and institutions, created with an identified specific goal, is also going to make the transition possible. Managers who collaborate with their counterparts in other industries, and work with regulators to make new ideas possible are well poised to grow. When businesses think this way, they develop new alliances. Consider how in Africa, Fidelity Bank, Visa, telecoms company MTN and CARE International are working together with support from FSD Africa to enable community savings groups in Ghana to open and operate a Fidelity Bank Smart account without a customer needing to visit a bank branch. Opening accounts is entirely digital and can be done in less than five minutes. Group members can access their account through an MTN mobile money wallet. This achieves that lauded big picture goal of helping to increase financial inclusion, but it also develops new bank customers and reinforces customer loyalty with a telecoms company.

Dare to think big. Dare to think about how your business can help improve the world, your nation, and your local community.

Gianfranco Casati is Accenture’s group chief executive of growth markets