5 Snapshots of the Digital Revolution in Progress

For more than a decade, DocuSign in San Francisco has served as a leader in the digital sphere. The company offers its more than 85 million customers worldwide a wide range of easy-to-use electronic signature and online document management systems, including a customizable digital transaction management platform. In addition, its virtual Transaction Rooms unite document creators, signers, and senders in a secure real-time environment to conclude agreements and contracts quickly, safely, and efficiently.

DocuSign’s CEO, Keith Krach, and the company’s other principals have demonstrated their value as thought leaders in the 21st century digital revolution that has created many positive points of disruption across multiple industries. The company has taken a front-line role in the implementation of the industry-wide xDTM Standard for security and reliability in Digital Transaction Management.

Most experts in the field are of the opinion that the business community and society in general are in the midst of a major shift in operations and perspectives driven by the exponential growth of digital information, products, and capabilities. Following are a few of the main points to note about this game-changing shift:

1. The Fourth Industrial Revolution

One recent study found that this digital revolution is poised to add close to $20 trillion to the global economy. The founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, has even written a 2016 book on the topic titled The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Some experts believe that today’s digital revolution will have an impact that is five to 10 times as significant as that of the information revolution of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The associated changes are already transforming the way in which people around the world live, think, and conduct business.

Still other experienced observers believe that the technological changes that have occurred since the turn of the millennium are greater in their impact than those of the entire second half of the 20th century.

2. Uneven digital advancement

While the United States has proven to be a consistent leader on the digital scene, research widely published by the McKinsey Global Institute in 2016 found that the country’s economy realized only about 18 percent of its inherent digital potential.

One of the key insights of this study was that while most businesses have achieved an adequate degree of access to emerging digital technologies, a few individual sectors and companies have become the “have-mores” in the equation.

According to the McKinsey study’s digitization index, over the past two decades these vanguard segments have maintained a significant lead over the others in developing and equipping a digitally competent workforce prepared to meet 21st century challenges. In fact, the study found that the most digitally competent segments of the economy enjoy profit margins and enhanced productivity at a rate of almost three times greater than those of other sectors that are merely keeping pace.

Unfortunately, some of the companies and sectors with the largest number of jobs and the greatest influence on the gross domestic product are among those slowest to develop their digital capacity, thus contributing to an overall drag on the economy.

The study concluded that if the country were able to harness the power of digitization to its fullest extent, some $2 trillion could be added to the national economy.

3. Growth in the developing world

Examples of the official response to digital development include the creation of government-driven plans, such as those supported by India’s national leadership. The home of one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India has recently taken steps to increase the availability of the Internet to its citizens while modernizing its overall national economic structure. In 2015, the country’s new Digital India project debuted with the goal of boosting online architecture nationwide.

India’s private sector is among the most dynamic in the world, with a number of tech-based start-up companies modeled on the successes of some of Silicon Valley’s marquee companies. Indian officials are also currently focused on helping their country’s emerging companies to develop closer ties with leading U.S.-based digital companies.

4. Perspective-changing technologies

The first wave of the digital revolution has already crested over the entertainment, communications, and retail sectors, with companies such as Amazon.com becoming everyday staples in the lives of most consumers throughout the world.

This first wave was driven by the build-out of the Internet and the realization of its capabilities for sharing peer-to-peer content and boosting start-up companies based on new models of customer engagement. Other core industries, including those focused on risk-management fields such as insurance, health care, and financial services, are beginning to find themselves similarly challenged to keep up in a rapidly expanding digital world.

5. The second digital wave is here

This next digital wave is already producing changes in the digital landscape through leading exemplars such as blockchain technologies and the Internet of Things. Also known as the Internet of Everything, IoT refers to the development of a connected network of physical objects — smart devices, appliances, vehicles, and more — that feature embedded software, electronic capabilities, sensory apparatus, and more. These capabilities allow for the interactive and automatic exchange of information among devices, manufacturing companies, and data operators.

Blockchain, which many people became familiar with through the use of bitcoin online currency services, is a distributed ledger system that requires multiple user approvals in order to permanently authenticate a transaction.

Blockchain technology relies on a network consensus to keep track of transactions and to complete and authenticate them electronically. Blockchain’s means of storing and retrieving information enhances privacy and transparency in transactions, and it also offers the capacity to prevent most common attempts at fraud and hacking.

In recent years, innovators in industries that are far removed from the financial services sector have found blockchain technologies attractive.

These and other emerging innovations stand ready to enable the growth of collective intelligence through large-scale data collaboration involving individual consumers, companies, and organizations.