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Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 16 settembre 2013 alle ore 16:01.


Likewise, cloud computing gives small enterprises IT capabilities that were previously available only to larger firms – as well as a growing assortment of back-office services – on the cheap. This is an unwelcome development for software providers whose business model is based on licensing and annual maintenance fees, not electricity usage. Indeed, large companies in almost every field are vulnerable, as start-ups become better equipped, more competitive, and capable, like larger firms, of reaching customers and users everywhere.

Moreover, disruptive technologies will cause value to shift among economic sectors, as occurred when television overtook radio or, more recently, when online media gained predominance over print publication. Businesses in all sectors now must invest in understanding new technologies, so that they are prepared to seize opportunities or mount an effective defense quickly.

Indeed, CEOs and other top executives need to be technologists, or at least technology-savvy, and constantly assess how innovations will affect the status quo, specifically their profit pools. But, in devising relevant strategies, business leaders should recognize that the disruptive dozen’s economic potential is exactly that – potential. Rather than assume that the value is theirs for the taking, bosses must develop innovative business models that monetize technology’s potential and avert value shifts to competitors or players in other sectors, who will increasingly be able to participate – often more efficiently and with few legacy constraints – in any sector.

Experience shows that companies that develop innovative business models can win. Google, for example, continues to provide search and other online services for free, while using the expressed search intentions and other behavioral data to sell targeted advertising – a model that has proved highly profitable. This kind of multi-sided business model is appearing in other sectors, too, as companies use big-data analytics to find ways to monetize the information that they would collect anyway.

While consumers stand to reap the rewards of disruptive technologies, workers and companies can take nothing for granted. Workers must come to terms with the imperative of life-long learning, as their skills’ half-lives shrink, while companies must anticipate and adapt to rapid change.

Governments, too, must be prepared to cope with the ripple effects of technological disruptions. Policymakers will need to meet new demands for education and training, and implement effective mechanisms for regulating, say, self-driving cars or the use of genomic data to develop personalized drugs. In an innovation-driven economy, only innovative solutions can work.

Erik Brynjolfsson is Professor of Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. James Manyika is a director of the McKinsey Global Institute. Andrew McAfee is Principal Research Scientist and Associate Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2013.


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