MGI Research

Twenty-five years of digitization: Ten insights into how to play it right

Countries, sectors, and CEOs face an increasingly complex world characterized by the diffusion of new digital technologies, affecting productivity performance while causing disruption. In this world, the rewards for success—and the penalties for failure—are ever greater.

In this new briefing note (PDF–179KB), the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) draws on its extensive research on digitization that has looked at the importance of more inclusive infrastructure to broaden access to these technologies and at the emergence of new families of digital technologies including social media, enterprise 2.0, big data, and artificial intelligence (AI), and how these technologies are being diffused and affect economies, sectors, and firms.

We illustrate these insights with up-to-date 2018 data from an annual series of global market research surveys conducted since 2015 that explore corporate practices in light of digitization. We have chosen to focus on the business and management aspects of digitization, but acknowledge, as we have made clear in much of our research, that digitization has broader effects notably on the future of work and on societal welfare.

Ten insights can help leaders navigate this new digital world.

  1. Large economic potential is linked to digitization—and much of it yet to be captured
  2. Digital superstars are rising far beyond the US big four and China’s big three
  3. Digital natives are calling the shots
  4. Digital changes everything—even industry boundaries
  5. Agile is the new way to compete
  6. Playing the platform economy is an “in the money” option
  7. Self-cannibalization and innovation are a necessity for digital reinvention
  8. Going after the right M&A is key
  9. Effective management of digital transformation is vital—but challenging
  10. Leveraging, and transitioning from, digital to new frontier technologies is an imperative

Download the full briefing note, Twenty-five years of digitization: Ten insights into how to play it right (PDF179KB) for additional details behind each insight.

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