Are We Really Prepared For The Era Of Digital Globalisation?

It’s effect on the current socio-economic world order will be immense. Are we ready?

Globalise, as defined as Merriam-Websters dictionary means “to make (something) cover, involve, or affect the entire world

Digital Globalisation thus implies the creation of systems, platforms and capabilities that would involve or affect the online world, in its entirety.
 Back in the day, globalisation was simply the efficient movement of goods, money, information, and people across borders. Today, with connectivity having been built into everything, borders seem to have evaporated. Automation and massive technological revolution that is under way only feed further into the belly of this ever growing giant.

Much like any other revolution, the digital globalisation too, delivers many positive socioeconomic benefits to our lives. Yet, it is also causing considerable disruption and inequalities that must be addressed. While in developing nations it has already been responsible for helping move a billion people out of poverty and into the global economy, it has also been responsible for widening the gap between the winners and the losers in the labor market.

The south side of this equation has been running us into a unique problem: Skilled workers benefit from expanding global opportunity, while manufacturing employees suffer due to automation and outsourcing.

Globalisation is blamed, often, for the displacement of skills and labour. The skepticism prevails that global commerce and technology advancements will never be able to create real new economic growth, but will rather hurt existing commerce.

Even though we admit that what we are saying is a gross oversimplification of what’s actually happening, we contend to one thing: If we do not quickly switch from “doing the task manually” to “tasks being done with the help of automation and organisation”, we run the risk of continued economic stagnation, increasing social inequalities and a more insular society.

The way we connect with the world at a breakneck speed has changed our lives entirely. Keeping tabs on whatever is happening throughout the world, doing everything from banking, to shopping, to booking tickets, to storing photos, to looking for jobs, online, e-commerce, and such things, have now become almost given skills, things you ought to know how to do. But those are the things you see on the consumer end of the equation; the other side of the equation is an entirely different ballgame.

The fact that the next wave of innovation is already all set to marry mass global connectivity with big-data analytics and artificial intelligence, only makes the risk of continued stagnation worse. This is likely to result in an upstream movement in the labor force from administrative and manual workers to professional trades and knowledge workers, which will change the world even more than the digital revolution did when it hit three decades ago.

Thus we come back to our primary question: Are we prepared for an era of Digital Globalisation?

Not adapting to these changes fast enough is going to leave us in a very complicated spot; these new technologies that could create huge improvements in health care and education, and birth entirely new businesses and economic growth. These are things that will bring many more people out of poverty and continue expanding the global economy, which are all ultimately good things, but only if we are able to adapt to them.

The first thing we need to do is admit, that we are not yet ready for any of this. Now once we’ve said those hard words to ourselves, we can move on to the next one. The next thing to do is do a better job of preparing for, and limiting, the known negative impacts of this disruption. Amongst other things, this would require that we increase infrastructure investment, work towards striking more balanced trade agreements. and foster an environment more conducive to new business creation.

The next critical thing to do is address the underlying cause of our inability to adapt our workforce to changes in technology.
 What we need to do is change that, by adapting, retraining and redirecting our labor force. This calls for a fundamental redesigning of our education and career systems, which currently are built around a legacy of the previous industrial model and its needs.

Back when we were faced with the Industrial Revolution, what we did was redesign our education systems to make our youth capable to work with the changes. The “high school” ideology came into existence just to migrate the common people from the agricultural sector to the industrial sector with the Industrial Revolution.

Something similar is once again critical to address the shift in required skill sets. What must also be important to our understanding is that training only the youth is not going to be enough; the pre-existing workforce must also be retrained, so that the emphasis can be laid on retaining an existing, more mature workforce.

These new skill sets will need to be grounded in the practical realities of less actual “doing” and more “organising.”

What is also going to be critical is fostering the development of softer, more creative, social-orientated skills such as teamwork, judgment, agility and adaptability. All of this will require a never-before-seen collaboration across governments, corporations, and educational institutions.

But the truth stands: it will all be worth it, if done right. It will provide us with the greatest opportunity for improving the quality of lives, achieving greater equality and driving economic growth on a global scale.

We need to invest in our people, and given the way the world is moving digitally, that is not optional anymore. We are not ready for an era of digital globalization, and we must work on that, starting now.


Originally published at Chip-Monks.