BCG Henderson Institute

Evolution of the Digital Economy

Tim O’Reilly, Bill Janeway and Alondra Nelson led a very stimulating discussion with an audience comprising leaders from the corporate and academic worlds, at a breakfast hosted by the BCG Henderson Institute and the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Our guest speakers explored the evolution of technology and its implications for corporate strategy, the economy and relations with government and society.

Tim, Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media and renowned technology commentator, talked about the need to update our mental models in thinking about technology being every bit urgent as updating our business models. Drawing on his book WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us, Tim explained, for example, how technology has shifted the boundaries of recognized economic activity, bringing personal data and household activities into the equation.

Alondra, President of the Social Science Research Council, professor of sociology at Columbia University and prolific author on technology and society, explored the broader social context of technological innovation. She explored how technology gives rise to questions concerning inequality, transparency, misinformation and trust, drawing on her recent book The Social Life of DNA. She pointed out how these were in effect the new CSR issues, and how it is in the long term interests of corporations to make sure they are robustly addressed.

Bill, member of the Economics Faculty at Cambridge University, and former tech-oriented venture capitalist, shared some fascinating ideas from the new edition of his book, Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State. He explained how the impact of technology only be understood in the context of its relations with government and finance, and how this triangle of relationships was shifting.

Sources & Notes