October 22, 2019


Physics, Economics, Cybernetics, Aesthetics … and now Digitalics. What is digitalics? Just as the  zeitgeist -- the spirit of the times -- captures the changing mood as we move along the arrow of time, digitalics represents the current state of the weltgeist -- the spirit of a new hyper digital world where we find ourselves today.

This digital world is the new, happening place that none of us can, or even wish to, escape from in our personal, social and professional lives. Whether it is checking your WhatsApp or Facebook timeline, moving money on NEFT, marketing products on social media, hiring on Linkedin, listening to the voice of the customer on Twitter or cutting e-Waybills for your trucks that move across state borders --  everything happens in the digital world. Or rather where the digital touches the physical in the tangled web of click-and-mortar. That is digitalics at work.

Digitalics is different from computer programming, computer science and even from information technology as much as, say,  physics is different from manufacturing science. The underlying principles may come from physics but in manufacturing we create new, unique and useful products without which modern society cannot move forward. Tata Motors implementing SAP software or installing a new welding robot is an example of information technology whereas Uber devising a new way to connect the users, owners and drivers of cars in a way that is optimum for each is an example of digitalics at work.

Traditional management practices  have been significantly impacted by the emergence and acceptance of these new tools and techniques from the digital world. Moving beyond IT systems that were focussed on one, operational, aspect of the business, digitalics is now a necessary skill that is required across all management functions irrespective of the business domain. The democratisation of technologies like the smartphone means that these are used both by the guard at the gate to keep track of visitors and by the CEO at the airport lounge to have a video conference with his global team. It also means that managers in traditional roles must not only be familiar with terms like deep learning, cybersecurity, IOT and blockchain but must also be knowledgeable enough to consider integrating these tools  into the enterprise that  she manages. That is why managers need to understand digitalics.

Digitalics is more than just a subject that can be explicitly defined through the curriculum of  a standard 3-credit course in a B-School. It encompasses a wide range of concepts, ideas and disciplines that will imagineer --  imagine and engineer -- new applications for the hyper-digital world. It is a way of life, like sanatan dharma, that weaves itself into the warp and weft of the modern management process.

Business management has traditionally been viewed as processes that are clustered into buckets like Finance, Marketing, Operations, OB & HR. But today, these management verticals are twisted beyond recognition by powerful developments in horizontal technology like data science and fintech. That is the power of digitalics at work. 

A dimensional view of management today would have:

Management Verticals Technology Horizontals
Management Verticals
Technology Horizontals
Data Science
Social Media
Artificial Intelligence
Internet of Things

Digitalics is the art and science of optimising the productivity of  people, products and processes that glitter at the intersection of management verticals and technology horizontals.