The ‘New’ Digital Economy and Development

This technical note frames the ‘New’ Digital Economy (NDE) as including, most prominently: 1) advanced manufacturing, robotics and factory automation, 2) new sources of data from mobile and ubiquitous Internet connectivity, 3) cloud computing, 4) big data analytics, and 5) artificial intelligence. The main driver of the NDE is the continued exponential improvement in the cost-performance of information and communications technology (ICT), mainly microelectronics, following Moore’s Law. This is not new. The digitization of design, advanced manufacturing, robotics, communications, and distributed computer networking (e.g. the Internet) have been altering innovation processes, the content of tasks, and the possibilities for the relocation of work for decades. However, three features of the NDE are relatively novel. First, new sources of data, from smart phones to factory sensors, are sending vast quantities of data into the “cloud,” where they can be analysed to generate new insights, products, and services. Second, new business models based on technology and product platforms — platform innovation, platform ownership, and platform complimenting — are significantly altering the organization of industries and the terms of competition in a range of leading-edge industries and product categories. Third, the performance of ICT hardware and software has advanced to the point where artificial intelligence and machine learning applications are proliferating. What these novel features share is reliance on very advanced and nearly ubiquitous ICT, embedded in a growing platform ecosystem characterized by high levels of interoperability and modularity. The NDE appears poised to extend the organizational and geographical fragmentation of work into new realms, including formerly indivisible and geographically rooted activities that reside at the front end of global value chains, especially R&D, product design, and other knowledge-intensive and innovation-related business functions. The impact on jobs and international competition will crucially depend on the pace of change and the ability of organizations and societies to manage it. This technical note discusses how the NDE can be defined, explores its likely implications for the location of innovation and manufacturing, notably involving developing countries. The likely implications for smaller and developing country firms are discussed, as are positive and negative scenarios for society in general.

Quelle / Link: The ‘New’ Digital Economy and Development

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