Article by our Digital Learning and Youth Leadership Program Lead, Hamza Arsbi
Digital Entrepreneurship is on the rise. The opportunities and accessibility it provides for anyone, anywhere across the world have made it a valuable tool for people to transform their world. Researchers such as Porter and Heppelmann (2015) identified three waves of information technology-driven (IT) global changes. The first wave started in the 1950s with the rise of automation. The second wave started during the 1980s with the launch of the internet. The third wave, which is happening now, the digital transformation is happening through the change in the products themselves. New digital products are designed to collect data and assist in the learning and improving the process. These waves have always brought with them growth and an increase in productivity, creating new possibilities for innovation.
Looking at the future of Digital Entrepreneurship, here are some of the key positive trends and existing barriers presented to any up and coming entrepreneur:
1- Accessibility of Digital Entrepreneurship: The barriers to digital entrepreneurship are relatively low. Innovation in the digital world requires little funding, especially to produce a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that can be showcased to investors. Additionally, internet and tech penetration has made digital tools fairly available across the globe.
2- Social Media for Marketing: Social Media has provided the opportunity to reach global audiences with little cost. From subject-specific Facebook groups to international networks on LinkedIn and Twitter, marketing digital innovations has never been easier.
3- Investors are ready for disruption: The rise of companies such as AirBnB and Uber has disrupted existing systems such as hotels and transportation. The success of these companies has reduced the fear of innovative disruptions and increased investor interest in supporting new digital entrepreneurs. This change in attitude and investment trends means digital entrepreneurs can think more creatively and explore emerging areas such as Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things.
4- Affordable remote work: remote work is on the rise and working from home has never been easier with all the new tools and technologies. This provides an opportunity to reduce cost and connect with like-minded talent from across the globe.
5- Data-Driven Decision-Making: with the rise of direct customer interaction, easy feedback tools, and online engagement, collecting data from customers has become a key tool in making good decisions and improving digital products to increase competitiveness.
1- The Challenges of Innovation: the increasing global competition has made it increasingly difficult to keep innovating. Understanding customer needs and knowing when to change and pivot is becoming a core skill.
2- Ensuring Privacy and Security: with the growing reliance on data, it is becoming an increasing challenge to ensure the privacy and security of customers. A pressing issue that can ruin a business if not addressed appropriately.
3- Funding and investment: with rising competition comes a decrease in opportunities and funding. This creates a need to properly map and target relevant opportunities with clear and innovative products.
4- Additional Challenges for Developing Nations: the growing yet still weak entrepreneurial ecosystem in some countries means that start-ups in those countries have less access to funding or even regulations that can support their growth. This can also be compounded by limited infrastructures, such as internet or e-commerce penetration, and more systemic issues such as corruption. These challenges can be overcome by seeking international markets and relying on close circles of supporters to access the needed resources. Institutions have been increasing their work on digital education, which can lead to further improvement in global competitiveness.
Digital Entrepreneurship offers a unique opportunity to go beyond local limitations and explore global innovations. A willingness to learn new skills and an interest in collaborating with international partners can open many opportunities for any innovative digital entrepreneur.