I’ll admit it. I was a bit skeptical registering for Social Media and Digital Business. A class about social media? What does digital business even mean? What can I learn about social media that I don’t already know, being that I’m a millennial?
The answer is a lot. The answer is way more than I could have possibly expected. The answer is that I really had no idea about all the intricacies of social media, especially when it comes to businesses and society at large. I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing and participating in extremely fascinating discussions with my class and guest speakers about social media and digital business – spanning all corners and nooks of the digital realm. This class turned out to be one of the most intellectually stimulating courses I’ve ever taken at Boston College, and I think the expertise and resources Professor Kane and the class provided really furthered my experience in this class beyond anything I expected. So first and foremost, thank you to all the people that made this class great (and I don’t mean that in a corny or inauthentic way, I really do believe this). This includes people who I do not know personally but who wrote great blog posts or interesting tweets as well.
In the beginning of this course Professor Kane asked our class why most companies interviewed in a MIT Sloan Management Review/Deloitte Digital survey think their business is not adequately investing in making changes to prepare for digital disruption. That is, considering that the vast majority of firms did speculate that their industry will be changed in a radical way in the future. Our 7 pm section came up with a variety of answers to this dilemma: companies do not know how to prepare, they do not have the resources, they are waiting for concrete changes and will adapt their position when those happen…so on and so forth. Following a discussion about the potential reasonings behind this commonplace standing, Professor Kane revealed to us that most companies are actually too focused with sales and other short-term goals and in turn do not make the necessary changes in their day-to-day activities to reflect long-term concerns like digital disruption. In turn, numerous companies fail to implement the necessary organizational changes that allow for the “demands of the digital environment.” I’m only now beginning my job hunt and most likely won’t be in a managerial position for a bit of time, but this is something that has stuck with me throughout the course. Whatever industry I end up in (and remember, where you start is not where you end up), I will make sure to take this observation with me.
*Figure 2 is taken from Aligning the Organization for Its Digital Future in hyperlink above.
Another key takeaway for me is to be prepared for how the sharing economy will drastically change businesses. Airbnb and Uber are radically altering traditional B2C businesses, and the hybrid market model will continue to disrupt industries people never thought could be disrupted. Any idle resource is fair game. I personally can’t wait to use people’s pools and trampolines when they are not using them, sort of like an Airbnb but strictly contained to the use of pools and trampolines for a couple of hours while their owners not home (comment below if you know a guy).
The digital environment will also radically change the workplace even more than it already has. Just today Amazon released news of a grocery store without checkout lanes. If this concept is successful, which relies on sensors and artificial intelligence that detects the items customers take off shelves and place in their basket (all customers have to do is swipe an app), thousands of jobs will be lost. I don’t think I even have to mention self-driving cars because we already know what a game changer that would be.
Although the loss of jobs may be a concern from a macro-environmental perspective, the elimination of non-value adding, mundane activities should be considered as well. It’s hard for me to believe that people are passionate about or enjoy monotonous activities like driving a truck or bagging groceries, and these positions sort of minimize the incredible intellectual capacities all human beings have in my opinion. Our course also touched on how digitization will change our social environments and senses of purpose. A decrease in work leads to an increase in leisure and in that translation many individuals’ sense of purpose will be threatened as our society currently associates having a job with having a meaning.
On a similar note, this course reminds me to be skeptical about how voices can aggregate over social media. It’s incredibly easy to shame someone you do not know over something you do not know the full details about due to the nature of virality, but it’s our duty to check ourselves before we participate in the shaming culture aspects of social media have furthered. Following this year’s election, it is also equally as important to be aware of the echo chamber you inhabit and reach outside of what you are comfortable with or agree with in order to simply expand the information you consume. You don’t have to agree with differing opinions or support them, but not making an effort to have a respective and productive dialogue with individuals that don’t share your ideology leads to nowhere. Be kind and be curious IS6621!