Investment in digital infrastructure: Why and for whom?
In the last decade, digital has become part of almost every debate and discussion around strategy and often, the central focus. The reason is simple. Powerful and interconnected technologies today, including the cloud and AI, mean any business going through digital infrastructure transformation will be considering lucrative opportunities. The possibilities for new products, services and business models promise to substantially impact almost every sector of the economy even those where digital has already brought important changes.
However, whilst new digital economy (DE) business models have created enormous wealth, that wealth remains held by a very small number of countries, companies and individuals. Governments face the challenge of creating policies that allow the potential benefits of the DE to be realised by more people.
Recently published research in this area gauges the attitudes of different stakeholders who influence DE policy. This is important because if influential stakeholders, academics, and/or policymakers diverge in opinion, or believe the benefits of DE investments are reducing, the existing inequalities linked to digital accessibility will inevitably increase.
Findings from the study uncover the perceptions, process, needs, and priorities associated with DE, using key stakeholders, academics, and policymakers across New Zealand. New Zealand is a particularly relevant case study it leads the world by the focus of their national budget on delivering population wellbeing - with many of their policy initiatives focussing directly on DE.
A key finding from the study is that whilst there are important differences in stakeholders' perspectives, overall they currently remain sufficiently aligned to support investments in digital infrastructure and training. Stakeholders see internet access as a means to support the social economy, with concerns raised that parts of the population will be left behind if digital access is not prioritised and rolled out uniformly. However, as with any alliance, this alignment may splinter in future as stakeholders disagree over who prospers, who is most at risk of being left behind, and crucially, who should pay for upgrading digital skills. Further differences are also notable in terms of how investments in DE connect to wellbeing and identity, whether ‘fake news’ is significant, and the long-term impact of DE investments.
The research shows that whilst the reasons behind policy recommendations and decisions made by governments may be justified by very different narratives and understandings of the world, great care is also required to understand these narratives as a mean reinforce the importance of digital inclusion in delivering broader prosperity in the future. Although the long-term impacts of DE promise to be deep and far reaching, the path to this future for industries, companies and consumers is proving far from linear or predictable. A carefully considered, strategic response is invaluable in approaching digital transformation so that the widest possible eco-system of interests remains sustainable and agile in this ever-changing environment.
To access the full paper, read ‘Investment in digital infrastructure: Why and for whom?’, Region: The Journal of ERSA, https://doi.org/10.18335/region.v9i1.415
Professor Glenn Parry
Professor of Digital Transformation; Head, Department of Digital Economy Entrepreneurship and Innovation; CoDirector DECaDE: EPSRC Centre for the Decentralised Digital Economy
I am interested in the digital economy and particularly how that changes business models. I ask what value is and what 'Good' means for an organisation. Really understanding organisational goals helps us better define what good looks like in a given context. More money, more customers, better products and services tend to be the focus when talk about value creation and capture. What are we measuring, what is our process and does it create what we perceive to be 'good'? Value is itself a measurement – the measure of 'goodness'.
Current work focusses on blockchain, particularly supply chain, paradox theory, privacy and value in digital business models (EPSRC DECaDE, DEAS & DROPS projects); developing transdisciplinary work (EPSRC TREND project); and manufacture of individualised cancer treatment at scale (EPSRC OMMS project).
I am accepting self-funded PhD students interested in blockchain application in supply chain or Transdisciplinary work/engineering. Email me proposed projects. I do not have funding available.
You can follow me on twitter: @ProfGlennParry or my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/c/GlennParryTheGoodProfessor
Area of expertise
Professor Parry has over 20 years of experience teaching in Universities. His teaching approach characterised by brining academic theory to life through relevant examples from business. He supervises undergraduate and postgraduate students, and has developed modules and programmes at different levels. He currently has 5 PhD students and is teaching classes at MBA, Executive MBA and PhD.
Professor Parry's research approach is to partner with organisations to develop creative solutions to challenges. He is interested in creating change by understanding what makes 'good' business. He works with organisations to help them with business models, value capture, servitization, and supply chains. He has managed research consortia within the automotive, aerospace, media and construction industries. He has published and edited numerous international journals.
Prof Parry is CoDirector of DECaDE: Centre for the Decentralised Digital Economy, a UK research centre exploring the potential for decentralized platforms to disrupt the Digital Economy and represents £4M of UKRI/EPSRC investment plus over £6M of industrial contribution.
Glenn is CoI of the EPSRC RAMONA project examining resilient and secure 3D-printing supply chains.
Prof Parry is CoI of the £1.75m EPSRC project to develop the next generation of "Trans-Disciplinary Design-Engineers" who have the skills to realise the potential of current and future manufacturing processes and techniques.
His previous projects include CoI of: £1.5M Optimising Me Manufacturing System [OMMS] EPSRC project developing a healthcare microfactory for on-the-body manufacturing of leukaemia therapeutics; £1.2m EPSRC Hub of All things [hubofallthings.com] a personal virtual computer and data store for individuals; British Academy project examining Blockchain for Good; PI on an RCUK grant to explore Cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger; CoI on "The Uber Disruption", a project examining which variables can be used to describe digital technology disruption; PI for British Academy project to examine how ex-offenders achieve better outcomes when supported by business; CoI on the AHRC grant Bristol and Bath by Design (BBxD) examining business models and enterprises that create design value propositions; part of the £2million BAE Systems/EPRSC S4T programme that informed the transformation of the UK economy towards product related services, and Editor for the resultant book "Complex Engineering Service" [Springer.com]; was a Theme Leader for the €16M EU Intelligent Logistics for Innovative Product Technologies (ILIPT) project, a European consortium of 30 companies from across the automotive supply chain, editing the book 'Build to Order; The Road to the 5-day Car', [Springer.com].