I must read an article or blog post every week that talks about Digital Darwinism and how evolutionary forces are shaping our lives and the business environment. Digital Darwinism explains the demise of so many brick and mortar retailer businesses that failed to adapt to our times.
But I can’t help feeling that Digital Darwinism is not an accurate description because it’s just not big enough. Darwin talked about the process of evolution taking place over time: generations of change through chance mutations. An unconscious act which we could not choose or decline to participate in. Change used to take longer because we were so disconnected. A lone artisan working in a workshop trying to refine steel or a mathematician wrestling with a problem could not share their trial, errors, and success as easily as we can today. Progress is faster because there are some many more of us working on every problem and sharing the results. With a hundred thousand companies trying digital advertising simultaneously every day it is easy to see how programmatic advertising is constantly being refined. Once something has been proven to work it is copied by all, who then move to the next challenge or the next possible performance gain.
The technology-induced changes of today are different to that. First, we can choose to participate. We are not passive passengers here. Businesses can make a conscious decision to observe the change, predict it even and act upon it. Secondly, the spread of new ideas (mutations) is so much faster than at any time before in history. It is better to consider Seth Godin’s Idea Virus or Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point. Ideas are spread like viruses through connectors and in the digital age, these connectors have so many more connections and ways to influence.
So, the mutations take place faster and we can consciously decide to change. Disruption is so much more than small changes over time.
We will live through the internet, mobile, and AI revolutions in our lifetimes and who knows what beyond them.
We must choose to participate in change. Change is perhaps the only constant in our lives.