Atoms and bits

Often, when talking about agile, new ways of working, and product and innovation in established, large companies, you quickly come across people who don’t understand how work might change due to regulation, scale, etc. In some cases, each challenge is used as a reason not to change. It’s not that the challenges aren’t real. It’s the fact that the world is continuing to change quickly, and each of the challenges needs facing.

In this recent World Economic Forum article , we are shown how much more successful the companies who are comfortable with technology and digital are being. Between 2015 and 2018, the top 5 companies (by market capitalisation) went from being dominated by physical, established businesses to now being dominated by those that operate naturally in a digital way.

Reid Hoffman said recently: “It is important to distinguish between digital world and the physical world—or as we like to say in Silicon Valley, the world of bits and the world of atoms. Because the world of bits is much more malleable and easy to refactor. Atoms are much more expensive. But you must walk this fine line between fixable and fatal. The important thing is that you push your experimentation to the limit.”

Even if there are regulations and physical challenges in your current business, where can you start pushing your experiments to enable the things that are based in the world of bits to go faster?

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