Trying to separate the digital economy from the actual economy is a fool’s errand.

From haute couture to warehouse logistics, digital technologies are so enmeshed in our everyday lives that it’s impossible to tell where the boundaries are.

 Technology today is just a natural part of life. Trying to see it as something separate and different is hugely problematic.

As I’ve said before, the focus on “digital transformation”, “digital technology” or “digital anything” is a dangerous mindset to have because it misses the point.

It blinds many people in business as to what’s really going on.

It’s what we do with the technology that matters, what we create, what problems we solve and what contributions we make.

And those are the sorts of things that people are buying.

Catalyst Shows the Way

As an example I recommend you watch a recent Catalyst episode where Australia’s favourite mathematician, Lily Serna, demonstrates the part algorithms play in everyday business.

Algorithms of course drive much of digital technology.

The really interesting part of the show features two businesses at either extreme of the market using digital technology for vastly different results.

One was an online shopping logistics warehouse and the other was one of Australia’s leading fashion designers.

You can understand the digital applications in a warehouse, but fashion design?

In the giant warehouse of Estore Logistics all the staff wear mini computers on their wrists which tells them where to go to get an item, where to put it and where to send it. All of this is managed by bigger computer to achieve unprecedented levels of productivity and customer service.

As Orwellianlly creepy as that may be, there are no real surprises here.

But the fashion house?

Algorithmic Haute Couture

IBM teamed up with Jason Grech https://jasongrech.com to see if they could make his job as a designer any easier.

Turns out they could, in surprising ways.

JASONGRECH is a multiple award winning Melbourne couture brand synonymous with pure luxury, specialising in couture bridal and red carpet gowns of the very highest quality. 

Firstly Jason Grech used IBM computer “Watson” to expand his creativity. He would take a picture of something random that inspired him and then feed it into “Watson”. The computer would then show Jason a lot more images that matched Jason’s original inspiration and inspire him in even more ways.

Secondly Jason used “Watson” to see what was trending and what was likely to be hot next year in terms of colours, shapes and styles. The computer was able to analyse everything that was going on in the fashion world and advise him accordingly.

Surprisingly this was in ways that Jason would not have thought of by himself, or was even comfortable with once he saw them.

But in an act of creative bravery he incorporated the computer’s suggestions in his designs and ended up having his most successful fashion launch ever.

Watch the show, it is head-spinning. (It’s a bit long so you can forward to the 23 minute mark to see this part.)

From the Mundane to the Magical and Marvellous

So technology influences the full spectrum of our business endeavours from the mundane management of a warehouse to allowing a fashion designer’s creativity to expand in marvellously magical ways.

Now returning to my original point: When fashion models are walking down the catwalk, no-one is thinking that this is all part of the digital economy.

But it is; at least in this instance new technology played a major role in this haute couture success.

Technology allows us to do these great things faster, more innovatively and more disruptively.

It may be scary for some, but it’s inspirational for others.

Ultimately it’s what you as a business owner create, not what technology you use.

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