The upheaval is in full swing. The majority of analogue devices and processes have long since lost their importance and have had to give way to newer technologies. But even after this transition period, the potential of digitization is far from being exhausted.
The so-called digital age is now having a daily impact on everyday life, the professional world and other areas of life. Many experts also summarize these grandiose changes under the “third, industrial revolution”.
The essentials in brief
- The digital age describes a social movement that has been going on since the early 1990s. It documents the influence that digital changes are having on global society.
- The digital age influences humanity in different ways. Everyday events and the professional world are increasingly shaped by it.
- With the digital age, the company is also facing some challenges. Essential topics include data protection and the change in job profiles.
Definition: what is the digital age?
The digital age stands for a transformation of all processes and areas of life in harmony with digitization. This is an ongoing movement that was initiated around 1990. The starting point was primarily the networking of end devices such as PCs. Although the Internet was still in its infancy at the time, a few hundred thousand Germans recognized the potential of sending e-mails even thousands of years ago. The age of the telephone fashion had dawned.
From the year 2000, the digital age was less defined by the purpose of global networking. It was much more about promoting the mobility of these networks. Cell phones became famous for the masses but did not have a network connection for several years. It wasn’t until the end of the first decade of the 21st century that this phenomenon took off. While it was a niche topic at the beginning, mobile Internet can now be found on a large scale in everyday life. According to experts, the digital age is currently being shaped by the fact that new systems and the Internet are becoming more mature. An end of this section is forecast for the year 2030.
Background: What you should know about the digital age
The age of digitization is a widespread phenomenon that can be found in many different aspects. Then we want to present you these influences together with exciting additional information on the topic in detail.
How is the digital age changing everyday life?
Communication and information
The effects of the digital age make everyday life faster, but it can also simplify many processes. In particular, exchange or communication is not limited to the networks of various mobile radio providers.
News services such as “WhatsApp”, “Telegram” or “Facebook Messenger” are instrumental in ensuring that you can be reached all over the world at all times.
The not insignificant social media in this context also bring about a drastic improvement in the exchange of information. Regardless of whether it is about personal life or current world events – leafing through the photo album and ten different newspapers for a long time is right for you. Information is more tangible than ever before – and yet the end has undoubtedly not yet been reached.
The changes in the digital age about critical services represent essential aspects of everyday life. Visits to brokers, bank discussions and confusing paperwork are increasingly a thing of the past. You can take out appropriate provisions for almost all life situations exclusively via the Internet. Your liability, a foreign health insurance or a pension plan are just a few examples.
The financial sector has long since arrived in the age of digitization. Every bank now offers you location-independent online banking and enables mobile use in the form of an app. In this context, the opening and management of many financial services are also significantly simplified. The digital age already enables you to open and manage current and savings accounts on your own. Pioneers in financial technology often only rely on the use of the smartphone. You will be able to trade securities more easily thanks to the steadily growing range of online custody accounts. When it comes to business, private individuals and business people are no longer dependent on personal advice within reach.
Although visits to travel agencies are still prevalent at the moment, the conditions for holidays abroad have also simplified thanks to the digital age. The cheapest hotel, the fastest flight, the most comfortable train journey – with numerous providers and comparison portals, the conditions of your next vacation trip can be determined with an internet-enabled device.
Also, in the age of digitization, the handling of the precautions necessary before the trip can be carried out yourself. Regardless of whether you are booking a museum or theatre visit – such steps are just as possible as applying for a foreign visa and an international driver’s license, including securing a rental car.
The aspect of entertainment must also not be forgotten in the context of the digital age. Games, series, films and other forms of entertainment can be consumed without owning physical data carriers. Content of this type has now also been optimized accordingly for use on your smartphone or tablet. Classic television is still present, but in this form, it will soon give way to the advantages of the digital age. TV broadcasters now offer live broadcasts over the Internet as well as the subsequent access to contributions that have already been broadcast.
In this case, entertainment also applies to cultural events. Thanks to the advances in the digital age, it is now much more comfortable to book tickets for events. Long queues at the counter are replaced by a few clicks on the artist or ticket office’s website. Thanks to the networking made possible, you will also be able to handle visiting international events more easily.
For millennials and the subsequent generation, dealing with the advantages of the digital age is much more comfortable. The constant change could be followed as I grew up. But older and younger members of society have now also been integrated into the digital age. The smartphone, in particular, is now used extensively by people aged 50 and over. Even four out of ten Germans over 65 have such a device.
Younger members of the world population are meanwhile also lucrative target groups for companies of the digital zeitgeist. Apps, games and occasional access to social media such as “YouTube” are part of everyday life, even for the youngest.
A laptop to take notes, the exchange via a forum, the submission of tasks via online upload – you can now find the digital age in various educational institutions. Pre-schools, grammar schools and universities benefit above all in terms of organization and cost centres. Especially in times of the Corona crisis in 2020, it could be shown that lessons exclusively via the Internet are also possible in a cocky manner.
How does the digital age affect the world of the employee?
Not only as a trainee but also in the professional world, you will be able to feel the changes in the digital age. By networking mobile and fixed end devices, tasks can be carried out faster, better coordinated and thus carried out with more great time efficiency.
Given the sign of the digital age, you as an employee will also be confronted with new, exciting framework conditions. Novel concepts such as “Work 4.0” or “New Work” are aimed at enabling working people to take individual approaches. Above all, this concerns independence from time, place and device. Working together on projects is also extremely versatile and less complicated.
You will not only notice the innovations of the digital age in the context of your current employment. This movement has also brought new, exciting job profiles with it. People who particularly enjoy spending their time on social media can now earn a lucrative living with it. Other job profiles that should not be left unmentioned here are, for example, data scientists and content managers. Core tasks such as the coordination of large data sets or the socially compatible writing of blog articles and texts are symbols of the changes brought about by the digital age.
How is the digital age influencing corporate outlook?
From the perspective of corporate management, the digital age also brings with it several changed requirements. The simplified coordination of various processes does not only benefit salaried employees. It is also possible to reduce costs and do more time-efficient planning. Since employees in the digital age mainly coordinate themselves, the flat hierarchy that this makes possible brings more flexibility.
As with employees, the digital age does not only offer existing companies profitable conditions. The digital zeitgeist gives new start-ups and start-ups an ideal environment to bring new ideas to market. The high level of innovation can finally find suitable target groups due to the diverse needs of today’s society. A wide range of offers addresses niche markets but also broader masses.
The term “start up” has been gaining in importance since the beginning of the 2010s. The focus is basically on digital technologies, media or particular forms of marketing. Just under 10 per cent of all German “start-ups” are not located in the digital sector. The trend movement, which is already very formative, will undoubtedly influence further sections of the digital age due to these conditions.
What opportunities and challenges do the digital age bring with it?
You may have already been able to derive the great opportunities of the digital age from the findings so far. For example, all the job profiles created so far will only be the beginning. New technological developments will provide the potential to develop additional professions and cover new markets. This means that not only your self-realization is in the foreground. The steadily growing trend towards start-ups can benefit the economy of several countries and thus offer the basis for innovation locations a la Silicon.
Information is a particular challenge at a social level.
A general overview of world events, similar to what used to be done by reading the newspaper or watching a news program alone, has become very difficult. Due to the great flood of information, it is up to the individual to obtain information from several sources and to determine their trustworthiness.
Another challenge will be to protect end-users and individuals better. Not only data abuse scandals such as “Facebook” have resulted on the Internet, often becoming a threat to one’s own identity. A corresponding step has been taken at least through the “GDPR” introduced in the European Union. However, individual stumbling blocks will also have to be overcome in the technological area.
Are there any scientific studies on the digital age?
To capture the status quo and possible trend developments of the digital age, science is now also dealing with this topic. The company “Deloitte”, whose study dealt with the subject “Planning in the digital age”, sheds light on possible trends from an entrepreneurial point of view. The following results are to be recorded:
- With 75%, the leadership style “from pilot to co-pilot” received the most approval of all respondents. In addition to the CEO, a controller is a critical counterpoint to all planning and thus provides additional perspectives.
- The options “From tacting to openness” with 66% and “From silos to the overall picture” with 65% are in the excellent midfield. The former option allows each employee to introduce new approaches to improve the functionality of the processes. At the same time, the latter variant is based on partial coordination of all operations with the individual employees.
- Leadership styles such as “From interaction to symbiosis” and “From cycles to events” are rather unpopular with 39% and 40% approval respectively. According to the companies surveyed, the use of digital assistants or event-based planning is not practical.
A study carried out in 2017 by “PIDAS – The Customer Care Company” in cooperation with the “Zurich University of Applied Sciences” offers a social insight into the influences of the digital age. Here, for example, the future potential of communication channels was assessed from a business perspective. While letters and phone calls fare poorly, personal chat tops the list before video calls.
From the customer’s point of view, however, the situation looks a little different. The telephone is still the most widely used means of personal inquiries before e-mails. At the time of the study, video telephony, social media and “messenger” services were far behind. The fact that the direct point of sale or face-to-face conversation is the third most popular method of customer inquiries shows that development is even slower in German-speaking countries. Administrations, banks and telecommunications companies, in particular, are still dependent on this method.
What future prognoses are possible about the digital age?
Above all, based on the studies mentioned above, some future prognoses are possible about the “digital age”. The communication channels, which are already classified as having high potential at the corporate level, will also find more significant approval in society. The next phase of the digital age, the beginning of which is predicted for the year 2030, even foresees a complete merging of the real and digital world. Direct customer advice is likely to disappear entirely over time. You can now replace bank employees and sometimes lawyers with apps or software.
The number of “start-up” companies will continue to grow in the future. Already in 2018, there were just under 10,000 such new companies in Germany whose philosophy is oriented towards innovation. This trend will not only ensure more product and service offerings but will also influence business processes and interactions between customers and providers.
- Social media and online advertising, in general, will become more critical in terms of marketing. The automation of displays based on individual characteristics is already available through “Programmatic Advertising”, but in the future, it will be tailored to individuals in greater detail.
- The development of company structures will create additional attractiveness due to falling costs. The range of superior hardware and software such as 3D printers or algorithms is becoming broader and more suitable for the masses, and these resources are relieving the status of “luxury investments”.
- “Amazon” has already shown the way with the idea of their drones. Novel transport systems will not only enable faster availability of your products. The sale of niche-like products to widely dispersed clients is also much more efficient and lucrative.
Are there any criticisms of the digital age?
While the digital age is having a positive impact on society in many ways, critics also see some gaps in this movement. An essential aspect is, for example, the world of work. The sign of the digital age means that human labour is becoming more and more redundant, which means that a lot of traditional professions are being lost. Despite the ongoing emergence of new job profiles, those who have only entered the digital age at an advanced age will find it challenging to maintain a career.
The Internet is at the heart of the digital age. Although it has turned out to be a blessing in many ways, critics also see it as a great danger. With the complete elimination of analogue elements, existential aspects are more easily accessible to abuse. Online accounts, financial resources or entire identities can easily fall into the wrong hand’s thanks to these technological developments. Problems related to data protection discussed above also play into the hands of sceptics of the digital age. Together with the positive changes in the zeitgeist, greater security in this area is probably the most critical challenge.
For almost 30 years now, humanity has benefited in many ways from the digital age. Every day and professional life is affected to a great extent, and the changes are more a component than a trend. Also, the future trend is also in that direction. The influence and the dependency that the factors of that movement bring with them will continuously grow and bring new approaches with them. Even those people who can do little with it will have to grow into this new worldview for better or worse.