The first national Digital Day took place in 2017. digitalswitzerland is in the middle of preparing the second edition of the Digital Day on 25 October 2018. In the following paragraphs, I would like to lay out the reason behind and the necessity of a thorough and inclusive Digital Day in Switzerland.

Our mission at digitalswitzerland is to make Switzerland a leading digital innovation hub – worldwide. This can only be achieved, when we can get everyone, meaning the whole public in Switzerland, on board the digital transformation sooner rather than later, because the digital train is accelerating fast.

Digital transformation: opportunity or threat?

When the topic of digital transformation is discussed within the broader public, the question that often arises is: Will digitisation result in opportunities or threats for our economy, our government, our society and for ourselves?

My answer is always: Both!

Digital transformation or digitisation is a fact and already a reality today, the recent past and will stay here for the future. I am convinced that it brings both opportunities and challenges – as in every previous revolution. So the real question that we need to answer as a society, economy, government and on an individual level is what will we make of it and how can we embrace the manifold opportunities while at the same time overcoming the challenges ahead?

How to cope with the digital transformation

So, in order to support my case, I read some books to give a clearer picture to everyone fearing the digital future. Luckily, I struck gold very quickly when I found Thomas L. Friedman’s latest book: Thank you for being late – An optimist’s guide to thriving in the age of accelerations.

In his book, he dives deep into the time and age of digitisation we are in and states that the most iconic year was 2007, when the smartphone was invented. The book has more than 500 pages and is worth every one. If you don’t have the time, just listen to him talk about it for an hour here. Below a couple of my favorite quotes (so far) from the book, which also explain why the Digital Day is so immensely relevant for Switzerland.

«Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so we may fear less.» (quote at the beginning of the book from Marie Curie, p. 3)

Our goal at digitalswitzerland is to make the digital transformation more understandable and more concrete for the public. We can only succeed with this endeavor if the public and everyone on an individual level is on board and takes part in the digital journey.


Acceleration is increasing

«In the world we are in now, acceleration seems to be increasing. That means you don’t just move to a higher speed of change. The rate of change also gets faster… And when the rate of change eventually exceeds the ability to adapt you get “dislocation”. Disruption is what happens when someone does something clever that makes you or your company look obsolete. Dislocation is when the whole environment is being altered so quickly that everyone starts to feel they can’t keep up.» (p. 28)

The most prominent example for this is in my view the UBER case. UBER was launched in 2009 and started disrupting the decade-long same business model of the taxi industry. However, UBER is already on the verge of being disrupted itself by the emergence of self-driving cars. In order to not become obsolet, but stay on top of this evolution, the company is at the forefront in developing and testing self-driving cars itself.

While UBER is actually still at the center of it all, many still struggle to wrap their head around the sharing economy, while new innovations are just around the corner flipping everything, at fast speeds and on a global magnitude on its head again.

«Indeed, there is a mismatch between the learning systems, training systems, management systems, social safety nets, and government regulations that would enable citizens to get the most out of these accelerations and cushion their worst impacts. This mismatch […] is at the center of much of the turmoil roiling politics and society in both developed and developing countries today. It now constitutes probably the most important governance challenge across the globe.» (p. 28)

A big warning in the age of acceleration

«In the age of acceleration, if a society doesn’t build floors under people, many will reach for a wall – no matter how self-defeating that would be. With so much changing so fast, it’s easier than ever today for people to feel a loss of “home” in the deepest sense. And they will resist. Addressing that anxiety is one of today’s great leadership challenges […].» (p. 155)

Not only the Digital Day team, but all of digitalswitzerland and its members are committed to the challenge of getting everyone on board the digital transformation. The Digital Day is our public cart horse, providing a great platform which brings together important stakeholders from business, academia, politics and the public to embrace each other’s perspectives, find solutions together for the challenges ahead and identify chances and opportunities for everyone.

In later blogposts, I will deep dive on some mechanisms presented in Friedman’s book that provide more basis for all our initiatives within digitalswitzerland. Stay updated and sign up for our newsletter.