Digital Darwinism and COVID-19: Businesses must adapt or perish in new economy

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Digital momentum is accelerating as the world faces COVID-19, says futurist Brian Solis. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Will we ever look at toilet paper the same way? Will we live as we did before COVID-19? Not a single nation is immune from the impacts of the virus.

Futurist and digital anthropologist Brian Solis shares some of his insights with KCRW host Warren Olney.

KCRW: The digital revolution and the global coronavirus situation —how do they go together? 

Solis: “There is an opportunity here to see it as a control-alt-delete moment. The world is now accelerating towards digital momentum. Whether that is working from home or e-commerce, this path to digital was inevitable. It's been ongoing for 20 years.

Unfortunately, this moment in time is forcing incumbents and digital disruptors like the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world to rethink what it means to be in business today. That is forcing what I call the novel economy, which is essentially all of the playbooks that we had coming into this moment are not going to work moving forward.”

What about the idea that businesses must adapt or die? Is that situation more crucial now?

“Let's look at the deaths. If we look at the retail sector, for example, this is an industry that was disrupted beginning in 1995, when the dawn of the consumer-facing internet really started to rise. Yet many retailers still talk about how to more effectively compete against Amazon, when Amazon itself is over 20 years old. 

When we talk about Uber and Airbnb and being disrupted in their respective markets, those companies are over a decade old now. So it gives perspective to the fact that we're not moving fast enough. The number one place for businesses to make investments (as customers are now forced to shop online) is in e-commerce —and many organizations aren't able to keep up.” 

As classes increasingly go online during the pandemic, how will that affect kids and their parents?

“Parents now have to help their children learn in a way that really only teachers have had to do. … Hopefully this is a learning moment for them to say, ‘Wow, I now see the devices differently. I see how their brain works differently. It might be different than mine. Perhaps I need a bit more empathy in this moment to think: How would my child learn, knowing that their brain is probably different than my brain, so that I can connect the dots and be a better teacher, be a better parent, and be a better role model?’ 

So in many ways, this is an opportunity for us to learn and grow to help the next generation who doesn't know any different. This is all they know.”



  • Brian Solis - Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, digital anthropologist, bestselling author - @briansolis


Warren Olney


Andrea Brody