Digital Legacies: Pilots

Julius Wiedemann contemplates the creation of a startup ‘Bible’ through the various models by which countries and enterprises explore new ideas and technologies across the world.

by Julius WiedemannPublished on : Feb 01, 2022

The way to submit a project for a tv season is called 'The Bible'. The Bible is what comes before the pilot. Every project needs guidelines and a plan for an eventual successful outcome. The Bible is a combination of screen writing and a table of contents, but also a number of synopses about every character that is going to play a significant role in the series. In the digital world, testing something right before, or much before something is launched, is almost a necessity. But it is also a question about cost. And digital models, more often than not, allow us to create pilot projects before even an MVP (minimum viable product) is launched, with a reasonable investment. It is almost always worth every penny.

Digital technologies such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs have an unpredictable array of possibilities waiting to be discovered | Digital Legacies | Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
Digital technologies such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs have an unpredictable array of possibilities waiting to be discovered Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

The model above works mostly for businesses. But what happens when technologies change entire business environments, let alone the form of thinking. We are talking about breaking monopolies, and sometimes sending thousands of companies to the cemetery. Disruptors can create companies, and sometimes entire industries. But when entire industries are required to change their models, and institutional stability is under threat, new rules of engagement need to be put in place. Digital technologies such as Blockchain, cryptocurrency, and lately, NFT (non-fungible token), offer an array of possibilities, and an unpredictable number of surprises. What excites investors is always the possibilities ahead. What get them nervous and anxious, are always the unpredictable territories. The stable environments offer the confidence that if someone commits a mistake, or if there’s a misunderstanding of certain dynamics, or simply, if their decisions are taken, they would not destroy completely a venture overnight. With some digital technologies, especially with the ones mentioned before in this text, every venture becomes an adventure.

Most European countries tend to default to organic models of growth when dealing with new technologies in fear of disruptions to existing fields | Digital Legacies | Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
Most European countries tend to default to organic models of growth when dealing with new technologies in fear of disruptions to existing fields Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

Some countries tend to create policies to see things grow organically. And with that, test real possibilities and acceptance of new technologies. These are mostly European countries at present. They are more cautious and tend to think more about the impact that new technologies would have on old businesses. It has the advantage of generating more stability, but disadvantages such as innovation and forward thinking, which almost necessarily do not come through. The American way of dealing with innovation is usually to generate number of start-ups and to believe that investors are the ones with the highest interest in getting new businesses off the ground, and will invest what is needed to create disruption and make other companies defunct, if they believe that there is a real value proposition in the business plan. Military contracts are also commonly used in the US. China seems to be leading a third way of doing it. Guided by governmental rules, but also incentives, they have been testing new technologies little by little, selecting not only cities that are challenging for new ideas, but also types of businesses that could profit from a sort of technological mindset. This strategy seems to be simple. They wait for certain technologies to mature enough so that they can have some sort of predictability. After that, they sit down and see how that would change in the status quo, creating some sort of Bible, with great risk analysis. They don't want to mess any opportunity and try to test as much as they can.

  • On the other hand, China has pioneered a method built upon incentivisation and governmental regulation with intensive risk analysis | Digital Legacies | Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
    On the other hand, China has pioneered a method built upon incentivisation and governmental regulation with intensive risk analysis Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann
  • COVID-19 has exposed the deficiencies within a lot of digital applications and systems, particularly in the overwhelmed healthcare sector | Digital Legacies | Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
    COVID-19 has exposed the deficiencies within a lot of digital applications and systems, particularly in the overwhelmed healthcare sector Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

The challenge comes always when there is an emergency. The COVID-19 era has shown that with so many apps and systems working lousy, clumsy, and not offering much hope for help. The problem here is exactly the absence of a sort of Bible and a pilot plan. According to scientists, those scenarios were supposed to have been tested years ago, with mathematical simulations that would have possibly saved many lives in the last two years. But it’s always hard to believe what’s your sass information when opinions seek prevalence over good thinking. In real businesses you have to simulate and you have to test exhaustively before something is really launched. The adventurous team from katalista.com have done the first phase of their platform using WordPress. A hell of a pilot project, to present a promising concept. The next phase will come soon, and will be completely developed from scratch. But their dedication has indicated a lot of changes that needed to be done, and were only observed because they aimed for a nearly-fully-functional prototype. The next phase will work "safe and sound" according to Lucas Foster, the CEO of the company.

Platforms such as Katalista - a hybrid startup accelerator, aim to provide new entrepreneurs with the support and guidance they need | Digital Legacies | Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
Platforms such as Katalista - a hybrid startup accelerator, aim to provide new entrepreneurs with the support and guidance they need Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

China is off to a good head-start compared to many countries. The cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu have been selected as ideal places to understand the reality of many scenarios. But they also selected very specific companies and fields to see if the technology passes a stress test exam. According to Reuters, “Apart from the pilot zones, 164 entities, including hospitals, universities and companies such as SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co., China National Offshore Oil Corp, Beijing Gas Group Co. and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd were selected to carry out blockchain pilot projects.” The financial market runs stress tests every year, just to understand how banks, specially smaller ones, would withstand a crisis scenario. Maybe, we could consider pilot programs, or even MVPs, the best way to conduct a stress test in the market and smaller scale. It would not be a bad idea to develop a Bible for that. There are endless frameworks to predict the success of a venture. But a more general framework for a smaller tests in the marketplace would be very welcome from young entrepreneurs.

Such ventures may prove vital in developing a proverbial ‘Bible’ for startups to hone in on their niche and grow efficiently | Digital Legacies | Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
Such ventures may prove vital in developing a proverbial ‘Bible’ for startups to hone in on their niche and grow efficiently Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

Read more from the series Digital Legacies where our columnist Julius Wiedemann investigates the many aspects of digital life.

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