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Digital Opportunity Becomes Digital Resilience

How Covid-19 might make it useful to re focus some of our analytical tools from glass half full to glass half empty.

On a conference call the other day, as we worked trying to save businesses from the effects of lockdown one of my colleagues somewhat wistfully reflected that “all this digital and crowd stuff we have been banging on about for the last ten years is suddenly in great demand.

How true. Whilst there have been many businesses seized by the opportunity that social, digital and crowd economics have offered up, so often much of what we have said has fallen on deaf ears. It has taken a significant crisis and disruption to force many to explore alternatives and so it is that whilst airlines are tanking, tools to bring about remote participation are experiencing unprecedented demand and growth.

It made me think that maybe we had been approaching it all wrong. Maybe, instead of stressing the opportunities that these new and novel approaches offered, we should have perhaps have been stressing the resilience they provide instead. Glass half empty rather than glass half full. Of course, necessity is the mother of adoption. It also goes a long way to helping us quickly set aside lingering anchors and concerns like security, data sharing, established rules, role definitions, procedures, protocols, user-owned kit and all the other excuses we habitually find to not explore and adopt new and novel approaches.

In the past I have often used the disrupted Value Chain model to quickly make the point as to how it is possible to think of adopting quicker, better, richer, cheaper methods of running our businesses. You know the one where every section of the Chain diagram is substituted to a social, crowd or digital alternative. It’s a useful way of getting across the idea and I wonder if it might now serve as the way into building the more resilient business of the future. Could it be better used as an analysis framework to consider how we use these tools to create resilience rather than an opportunity? Could we reasonably do this by a process of asking “What would happen if….?” for each of those links in the value chain as it applies to you?

Great for an established business don’t you think? Probably pretty good if you wanted to find gaps in the market as well if you want to establish a new business. Imagine pitching that to investors and potential clients “Remember what happened when that happened? Yes? Well here is the solution!”

If it works we could apply it at a sectoral level as a way of considering its resilience and how you future proof it. I mean if anything has exposed the fragility and risk associated with highly extended supply lines you are seeing it now. So for policymakers a handy idea too – you can scenario plan and build approaches to addressing the significant points of failure.

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