Preparing for a very different digital future

01 November 2015

© Oxford Martin School

The scale of digital change that lies ahead, and how one of the world’s most innovative companies is preparing for it, was described by David Black, MD of Branding & Consumer Markets at Google UK, in a talk at the Oxford Martin School on 28 October.

Mr Black, an alumnus of Magdalen College, told the audience that by the end of this decade there would be five billion people and 50 billion devices online, compared to 3.2 billion and 10 billion currently. “The internet population is going to nearly double by the end of this decade,” he said. “Think about how much change we have seen from the minority of the world getting online. We are only just getting started.”

Giving insights into how Google prepares for the future, he said the company always retained its focus on customer experience, and also placed importance on “failing well”, so that lessons were learned that enabled the firm to move forward. He said the company’s success was helped by having a clear mission, “to organise the world’s information and make it accessible and easy to use”.

For businesses to cope well with change, he said it was important to “make big bets on the future and set ambitious goals”, in order to make the most of technological change, and also to organise and be prepared for unpredictable change ahead.

He concluded: “We need to think about the future we want to build and start to build it now. The future is just getting started and the internet is still in its very early days.

“If the last 26 years were exciting, the next 26 are going to be even more so.”