In a recent blog post, I wrote about the ongoing ‘maker revolution’ and how production is being redistributed to the consumer side. There is a simultaneous shift that is very interesting to consider in the light of this.
Today knowledge and data are crude material that is becoming increasingly abundant and cheap. Thinking, on the other hand, is a refining process that is becoming more and more valuable. Mats Lindgren, author of ‘21st Century Management’, argues that the ability to streamline thinking processes and create ‘insight factories’ will be a key success factor in the new ‘thought economy’. This is not a new idea however; in the late 1990s management thinker Peter Drucker said that the main challenge for the 21st century will be to transform thinking processes in the same way manual work processes were transformed in the 20th century (that is, to dramatically increase the efficiency).
Production is being transferred to the consumer side and thinking is becoming a more important and valuable commodity.
There will be many significant consequences of this. On the digital agency arena, I think many actors will need to shift focus from production to more ‘thinking-oriented’ (for lack of a better word) and conceptual services – such as consumer insights, business development, UX strategies and concept development. Even though digital agencies do not cater to consumers (normally), tools for producing digital products and services will be available to the agencies’ clients aswell.
I also believe the arena on which digital agencies exist will change. As these companies will need to become more thinking-oriented and theoretical (again, for lack of better words), they will need to modify their range of services and approach management consultants and think tanks. That will, in turn, lead to a situation with new competition and coalitions.
Even though a shift like this is quite slow I think it is time for digital agencies to start to imagine a scenario in which there are simple and powerful tools for efficiently creating complex and multi-channel digital services with high-quality user experience. And subsequently think of strategies for how to act if that scenario becomes reality.
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