The Digital Economy: Our Future or Not

Almost without realizing it, Internet connection and access to information in real time has changed the way we access traditional products and services. Sectors such as banking and commerce have been transformed by technology, and others such as agriculture are already on their way.

In the mid-1990s, Canadian financial expert Don Tapscott wrote ‘The Digital Economy’, a book in which he warned about how the emergence of the Internet and the digitization of information could change the way we do business in the future. Time has proven the author right to such an extent that today these technological innovations are very present in business activities, both in large and small companies as well as in personal finance.

Specifically, the digital economy refers to the use of information technologies in the production processes of goods and services, as well as in their marketing and consumption. This term highlights how industry creates new products and services or transforms existing ones, taking advantage of technology. Digital banking, e-commerce, virtual education, mobile applications, collaborative platforms, among others, are some examples.

The three characteristics of the digital economy

Every day, more and more people become users of devices with Internet connection, such as cell phones, computers, smart watches and bracelets, etc., allowing them to interact in a global environment without limits of time and space. This makes the digital economy accessible to millions of people around the world, either to offer or demand goods and services.

Another expert on the subject, the American economist and statistician Thomas Mesenbourg, explained in a paper published in 2001 that there are three components that define the digital economy and differentiate it from the traditional one:

Infrastructure. These are the technological resources available to the business. It includes software, hardware and specialized human talent.
E-business. Refers to the processes that are developed using computer applications, online tools or digital platforms.
E-commerce. This is the most familiar concept, since it refers to the buying and selling of products and services over the Internet.

Advantages of the digital economy

The digital economy has gained weight in our lives and for the future promises to continue to do so with the development of technologies such as the Internet of things, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, blockchain, autonomous cars… Having these types of possibilities within reach offers us advantages such as:

Information. Users have enough data to make decisions about the products or services they are looking for. In addition to that provided by the manufacturer, information from other customers in forums or reviews help to improve the shopping experience.
Proximity. Through the different customer service channel options, the customer can contact the manufacturer or service provider more directly to resolve doubts or solve problems.
Global presence. The supply of goods and services can be available to users at any time and place, allowing companies to access different markets.
Security. Digital transactions have technology that makes them secure. Strong authentication of digital payments is an example of this.

The ability to continue transforming traditional productive sectors makes the digital economy a bet on the future. Agriculture, for example, has already begun to benefit from technological innovations that connect crops with the farmer through mobile applications, offering real-time data on the status of plantations, soil quality or irrigation needs, becoming a key element for management and decision making.

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