Digitally United We Stand, Digitally Divided We Fall! Or vice versa?
The European environment – business and wider society alike – is undergoing significant disruptions following the impact of digitalisation. Traditional value creation models for European businesses change. Value creation models are impacted by digital transformations – both if we talk about a “digital twin” (a virtual/digital control of physically running processes and physical resources) or about a full “digital from scratch”. New combinations of digital and physical resources (components) allow new, innovative, fully – or partially – digital products to be launched onto the markets. Thereupon, digital platform ecosystems (DPEs) and digital platform-based value creation models leave their marks on production, consumption, organization and organizations, or exchange.
At the same time, the European Union is also characterized by several core values that set it apart: democracy, equality, human rights etc. If digitalisation is a megatrend impacting upon the entire world, the focus on consumer privacy, a green economy, or mobility is something that seems to be more specific to Europe than to other parts of the world.
Due (or thanks?, as many will argue) to digitalisation and digital transformations, the previously known demarcations between industries often lose their validity. For delivering a digital product, digital ecosystems reunite industries that would have elsewise remained separated. Not only demarcation lines of specific industries are suddenly sponged down, but also entire societies and sovereignties. With such transnational features of a globalized and digitalized world, the question rightfully arises in how far we are national citizens of a given state and in how far are we actually pan-European or pan-cosmic citizens? As the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated, digitalisation can connect people from all over the world, at low costs. The degree of connectivity can even improve, but, for this, a quest towards achieving universal digitalisation would be needed. The same can be applied for businesses, which, touched by the aforementioned megatrends, now act as transnational players on global markets. However, when acting as such, European digital businesses are inherently affected by the effects of the aforementioned modern megatrends / values.
Thus, modern Europe (with its GDPR regulations or the focus on “green”) and digitalisation influence themselves and, thus, have in common interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary: while the digital economy draws on a mix of business administration, communications, information systems etc., Europe becomes even more intertwined societally, culturally, economically, politically etc. Both digitalisation and Europeanization are, thus, characterized by de-bordering. With its focus on democratic and human values (as opposed to a more profit-oriented, capitalist American Dream), it is not without reason that Europe now raises discussions about a New Digital Green Deal. Digital solutions can be favourable to greening, while at the same time, concerns exist about an increased use of resources, especially where hardware is involved as part of the digitalisation. Such discussions are of utmost importance in the wake of UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that will strongly impact European economies and societies. Chronologically, not much time is left until 2030; digitally, though, at the current pace of innovation, seven years might mean a lot. What digitalisation beholds for the European economy is yet to unfold.