Digital transformation is generating a fierce debate among policy-makers, economists and industry leaders about its societal impact. As digitalization disrupts society ever more profoundly, concern is growing about how it is affecting issues such as jobs, wages, inequality, health, resource efficiency and security.
To help begin a new, evidence-based debate on the future impact of digital transformation, we have conducted a detailed quantitative analysis of the value at stake from the digitalization of 11 major industries. In each case, we have calculated projections of the potential value of digitalization to the industry itself and emerging sources of value for wider society, as measured by an intentionally narrow set of indicators. Over time, this approach may be broadened and refined.
So how can digital transformation make a positive contribution to society? We have focused on three key areas:
Employment and skills
Current estimates of global job losses due to digitalization range from 2 million to 2 billion by 2030. There is great uncertainty, with concerns also about its impact on wages and working conditions.
The historic trend holds that for every 1% increase in global GDP, CO2e emissions have risen by approximately 0.5% and resource intensity by 0.4%.¹ Current business practices will contribute to a global gap of 8 billion tonnes between the supply and demand of natural resources by 2030, translating to $4.5 trillion of lost economic growth by 2030.²
Social media, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and user-generated websites such as TripAdvisor have been instrumental in increasing transparency and overcoming information asymmetries. However, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in all technology-based sectors declined in 2015, with concerns over data privacy and security a key factor. Broader ethical questions about the way organizations use digital technology also threaten to erode trust in those institutions.
While these are hugely complex challenges, our analysis suggests that digital transformation has the potential to make a positive contribution:
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