Digital Darwinism Book Summary - Digital Darwinism Book explained in key points
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Digital Darwinism summary

Tom Goodwin

Survival of the Fittest in the Age of Digital Disruption

4.3 (174 ratings)
18 mins
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    Digital Darwinism
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    Digital Darwinism is about adapting to a changing world and having a willingness to make fundamental changes.

    We often think in terms of “survival of the fittest.” But what does that mean for businesses today, when rapid global change is an ongoing concern? You may think that the most successful companies will always be the massive ones with teams of experts and billions to spend.

    But, as the author sees it, darwinism in the digital age is about being able to flourish by taking advantage of that rapid global change – it’s about being able to adapt quickly to whatever the uncertain future may bring.

    Big businesses with a global reach that have been around for 30 to 50 years are no longer the most successful companies out there. In fact, these businesses may be at a disadvantage. After all, they can easily end up so stuck in their ways that they find it difficult to make any changes at all. 

    For example, Sony invested greatly in making devices such as the Walkman and Discman to play music on cassettes or CDs. This helped them become the market leaders. And then MP3 and digital music happened. Sony could have moved into this new, and potentially very lucrative market. But if this digital music really took off, what would happen to all the Walkmans and Discmans? They’d be outdated. They wouldn’t sell. So, Sony saw the move to digital as a very risky act of self-disruption. As a result, the company was hesitant to move in the new market and it lost its leading position to more disruptive rivals.

    Instead, too many businesses are only willing to make small gestures toward embracing new technologies. The author refers to this as a “bolted-on” approach. An example of this is when a bank creates an app that allows a check to be deposited by snapping a photo of it, rather than rethinking the need for using paper checks in this day and age. They’re simply wedging technology into a dying system.

    A good analogy is Heathrow Airport, London. Bucket-loads of money have been spent trying to update Heathrow, despite the fact that it’s located in an area that makes it difficult for planes to maneuver and will be an unwieldy mess no matter how many alterations are made. At some point, a new airport will be built with room to grow in a practical location using modern technology at its very core. In other words, simply trying to update a burdensome, outdated system is unsustainable. 

    For legacy businesses, it’s essentially the same situation. Instead of tweaking an ailing system, you must be willing to make fundamental changes in order to truly adapt.

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    What is Digital Darwinism about?

    Digital Darwinism (2018) provides some much-needed insight into what makes a business truly disruptive and what executives should be focusing on in order to stay successful in today’s fast-changing global marketplace.

    Who should read Digital Darwinism?

    • Entrepreneurs and startup founders
    • People in established businesses seeking change
    • Marketing and sales gurus

    About the Author

    Tom Goodwin is head of innovation at Zenith Media. He’s also been a contributor to TechCrunch, the Guardian, Inc., GQ and Forbes. His writing on technology, advertising and marketing solutions has also appeared in the New York Times and the Economist.


    © Tom Goodwin, 2018. This Summary of Digital Darwinism is published by arrangement with Kogan Page.

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