Everyone’s gabbing about the digital economy. But what IS the digital economy? And why do we care? Author and business strategist Dan Tapscott was one of the first to use the term in his 1995 book, “The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence”. Tapscott had some early insight into how the application of technology and the internet would affect the way we do business forever. If technology is overhauling the business landscape, then it must affect the way we prepare our students to enter the workforce as well.
What is the Digital Economy?
The phrase Digital Economy has now become widely used to describe the effect that computing technologies have on our economy, and how they now control much of the way consumers and providers interact with products and services. Any economic activity that is a direct result of people’s online connections, devices, purchases, and/or data falls under the “Digital Economy” umbrella. E-commerce, digital marketing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) drive more of our money flow than ever before.
The pandemic has supercharged this trend considerably as workplaces, goods, and services transition to virtual platforms. In 2020, and into 2021, people continue to figure out how to keep their lives moving forward from within their own walls. Netflix and Amazon kept us all from going crazy in 2020 by easily providing us with goods and entertainment. They were ready for this transition, and flourished during lockdowns because they were already poised to operate in a digital economy.
Businesses who aren’t prepared to enter the digital economy risk leaving significant revenue on the table, and strangling their own advertising reach. How does this change the way businesses interact with their audience? How does it change the way they get their goods and services into the hands of consumers, and why should we care about the digital economy at all?
Digital vs. Traditional Economy – What’s the Difference?
The move to digital has disrupted the brick and mortar industry model for many businesses. This isn’t a U.S. issue. The global economy has morphed into something completely different than it’s economic ancestor, as high-tech goods and services explode onto the scene. The sale of intangible, digital goods (apps) is now commonplace. Consider the rise in crypto-currency – accepted by major household names such as Microsoft, Starbucks, Wholefoods and Etsy.
Brands are now being built to survive the digital economy, driven by an age of millennials who want their products and services instantly, and at the touch of a button. Companies are restructuring advertising budgets to target digital marketing and social platforms, rather than the print ads and billboards of times past. Perfecting the consumer experience is more about the layout of your website than the layout of your store.
One of the characteristics of the digital economy is its ability to create rapid growth for an organization. At the same time, organizations that are not fully prepared to claim their space in the digital arena can be left in the dust in a matter of months.
Why Should We Care about the Digital Economy and It’s Growth?
How many times have you said, ‘Isn’t it amazing how they can do that?” in reference to an incredible piece of technology, or a crazy item that could be shipped to your house at the push of the button? Have you ever taken a moment to wonder who “they” are? Who exactly is making the incredible technology that is the driving force behind the digital economy?
Newsflash: Computer scientists, programmers, engineers, and STEM professionals are the “they” that we often marvel over.
As technology advances at breakneck speed, humans can’t keep up. A significant portion of the population is being left behind as AI, computing technologies, and digital innovation move forward. In simpler terms – most people don’t have any idea how these apps, websites, devices, and currencies are created or what makes them work. That knowledge gap widens as schools continue to fall short in preparing graduates to enter the economy with 21st-century skills.
The Future of Work
The future of work is sitting behind desks, and at home, this fall as the 2021 school year launches with a modicum of uncertainty. The students experiencing STEM education right now are the students that are going to be launching into the most technologically advanced workforce the world has ever seen. We care about the digital economy because we need to be thinking about surviving in it by using every resource to help our students enter it with confidence.
What are you doing to prepare your student, your child, your community, and your economy for the future of work? At Thimble, we’re doing our part by making a relevant, rigorous, 21st-century STEM curriculum accessible both at school and at home. Join us, and help fund the Future of Work in this digital economy. Find out how Thimble has delivered STEM experiences for thousands of students already – and how you can help us – by visiting our Republic Campaign Page. Your confident investment can help us develop a confident future workforce.