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SXSW Preview: What’s the Next Generation Internet? Surprise: It’s all about the Blockchain!
Mar15

SXSW Preview: What’s the Next Generation Internet? Surprise: It’s all about the Blockchain!

by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott Yes, the digital revolution has brought countless wonders. The Internet, World Wide Web, Social Media, Mobile Computing, Geospaciality, Big Data and The Cloud, have enabled myriad wonderful developments in virtually every aspect of life. But when it comes to business, a careful analysis shows that the changes to date are only scratching the surface. Capitalism’s basic institution, the corporation, has remained relatively unchanged. Hierarchy, vertical integration and bureaucracy — hallmarks of the industrial age still reign. And when it comes to the economy as a whole, the digital revolution has not had a positive impact on prosperity for most. Social inequality is growing and most economists are predicting decades of structural unemployment. Continue reading on...

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SXSW Preview: Reality Check: The Dark Side of Digital Economy
Mar11

SXSW Preview: Reality Check: The Dark Side of Digital Economy

Not everything I’ve written holds up well. But in re-reading the Digital Economy for 20th Anniversary edition re-write, I’m both struck by how the book has withstood the test of time, and deeply concerned about where we have arrived. The subtitle of the book was “Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence.” The book was pretty breathless about the opportunities but equally it warned of the huge dangers ahead. I wrote: Some signs point to a new economy in which wealth is even further concentrated, basic rights like privacy are vanishing, and a spiral of violence and repression undermine basic security and freedoms. Pervasive evidence exists that indicates the basic social fabric is beginning to disintegrate. Old laws, structures, norms, and approaches are proving to be completely inadequate for life in the new economy. While they are crumbling or being smashed, it is not completely clear what should replace them. Everywhere people are beginning to ask, “Will this smaller world our children inherit be a better one? In hindsight, the digital economy has brought us many wonders. But I’m sad to say that every single “dark side” danger I mentioned in 1995 has in fact come to fruition. I outlined 8...

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Best Advice: Leave the Executive Fast Track to Become an Entrepreneur
Feb10

Best Advice: Leave the Executive Fast Track to Become an Entrepreneur

Thirty-five years ago (yep, that sure dates me), a colleague dragged me kicking and screaming away from my fast-track executive career to join her in launching our own company. At the time, I was deeply anxious — worried this would end up being the biggest mistake of my career. It turned out to be the best professional advice I’ve ever had. It’s an amazing story, actually. In the late 1970s, I was hired as a researcher at Canada’s Bell Labs (Bell Northern Research) in Toronto. Our group was trying to figure out how “internetworked computers” used by professionals and managers could change “knowledge work” and the nature of organizations. I got to collaborate with some of the most knowledgeable people in this area in the world at the time, including the great digital pioneer Douglas Engelbart — who invented word processing, the mouse, and hyperlinks (among other things.) Our group conducted the first-ever controlled experiments about the impact of technology on knowledge work. Half the office worked the old way — with telephones, typing pools, manual calendars, filing cabinets and the corporate library for information. The other half had computers on their desks connected to digital networks. They used a suite of tools that we built for electronic mail, word processing, document co-authoring and management, online information retrieval, personal time management and calendaring, and financial planning tools (spreadsheets had not been invented yet). Something You Might Not Know About Canada — Don Tapscott on The Digital Office of the 1970s from Don Tapscott We found that the wired group performed better and had more fun, concluding that computers were going to go beyond data processing to be used by everyone as communications tools. I was very fortunate to end up there, as we were doing work 15 years ahead of its time. In our group were people who today I still remember fondly as brilliant. We just loved coming to work every day: there was a sense of passion and excitement everywhere. I wrote a book about that experience in 1981, but it didn’t sell well. Critics said only programmers would use computers because regular people would never learn to type. Regardless, I was on the Executive Fast Track. I had received four promotions in two years, and was running the entire division of the company from my massive corner office. Even though our ideas didn’t yet have broad acceptance, I was a rising star in the company and highly regarded as a digital pioneer amongst the global “digerati” of the time. Which is why it seemed so weird when a colleague named Del Langdon tried to convince me...

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No Middleman Is Safe In the Digital Economy
Dec20

No Middleman Is Safe In the Digital Economy

Canadian Business Magazine profiled Don Tapscott’s reflections on the middleman and how to find places for growth in the digital economy. When Don Tapscott’s The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of the Networked Economy was published in 1994, travel website Expedia was just a skunkworks project within Microsoft. Twenty years later, the company is the perfect example of a phenomenon that Tapscott detailed in his book: the disappearance of the “agent” class. Read the full article on...

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MIT Innovations: Introducing Global Solution Networks
Dec08

MIT Innovations: Introducing Global Solution Networks

Don Tapscott has written the lead essay in this quarter’s Innovations, a distinguished quarterly journal published by MIT Press. The issue focuses on The Dynamics of Development as it pertains to the journal’s three main areas of interest: technology, governance and globalization. In the article, Tapscott writes: Nothing less than a massive transformation in the nature of government and governance is underway. Ideas about government’s role, expectations of political leaders and the division of labor in the powers that define governance are all in flux. Read the abstract or read the full article in PDF form. About Innovations The journal features cases authored by exceptional innovators; commentary and research from leading academics; and essays from globally recognized executives and political leaders. The journal is jointly hosted at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and MIT’s Legatum Center for Development and...

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Do Companies Still Need a CIO?
Nov24

Do Companies Still Need a CIO?

Introducing the IT Services Supermarket The IT Function has been under duress for many years. Prior to the introduction of the personal computer, the IT department controlled all technology use. With the PC and then later the early days of the web many business departments, such as marketing, R&D, and supply chain management, increasingly went outside of IT to procure and meet their technology needs. This trend has accelerated with the rise of mobile apps and the availability of services on The Cloud. This has caused some analysts, including industry behemoth Gartner Group to conclude that the days of the CIO are over. Do businesses still need a CIO? Read the full article on...

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