Expert’s Corner: Digital Economy Q&A with Bernd Petak

August 27th, 2014

Expert’s Corner with Bernd Petak: #DigitalEconomyCongress

In anticipation of the 2nd Annual Digital Economy Congress, Reboot is excited to present “Expert’s Corner”, a series of blog posts featuring outstanding digital economy leaders and professionals who will be speaking at the congress in October. Read on for a glimpse of what the #DigitalEconomyCongress is all about…

We had the opportunity to ask Bernd Petak a few questions about his views and opinions on the digital economy leading up to the congress:

Q: As our world becomes increasingly digitized, how do you think the way we do business will change?

A: The internet-driven technology that facilitates “digitization” has been with us for thirty years now. In the first decade, we figured out how to build the world wide web and how to establish the basic digital connections that bind us together. These included e-mail, bulletin boards and the like. In the second decade, the internet facilitated the disruption of the first round of inefficient spaces. That meant good bye to many bank branches in favour of ATM’s, good bye to Blockbuster stores in favour of online digital media distribution via iTunes, and other changes that we would now identify as obvious opportunities for change. Now, in the third decade the internet is turning its attention to disrupting the un-disruptable…the most established and powerful forces that we never would have guessed would be forced to change. We have Uber targeting our transportation habits, AirBnB expanding our short term stay options and now Crypto-technology like Bitcoin knocking at the door of the financial middle-men who have been a necessary part of the transactional world since the renaissance. It’s pretty clear how things will change for businesses from here on in. If your business doesn’t add significant NEW value for your customers, in other words if your company or industry makes its living moving things around or controlling access to resources, then you are already in trouble…you just may not know it yet.

Q: What does the term “Digital Economy” mean to you? or  How do you define the “Digital Economy”?

A: The digital economy is the new value-exchange environment that acknowledges and leverages the capabilities that the ubiquitous internet can facilitate. It started with instant funds transfer and real-time transaction authorization in the 1980’s, but now includes the ability to exchange value and participate in transactions with unknown and untrusted parties around the world, mediated by inexpensive trusted technology rather than wildly expensive (and profitable) middle-men.

Q: How has the digital economy affected you from a work and/or personal perspective?

A: All the companies that I’ve been involved with since 1993 as a partner at Deloitte, as an executive, as an entrepreneur, and as an advisor and mentor have been participants in the wave of change that the internet enables. These changes dominate my work and personal life.

Q: If you could give consumers one piece of advice on how to thrive in the changing digital economy, what would it be?

A: Every consumer should make an effort to personally try out one leading-edge new technology per year. This year why not set up a personal Bitcoin wallet, buy $20 worth of Bitcoin from a reputable exchange, download it into your smartphone and buy a coffee at a Bitcoin-enabled coffee shop. That process will answer most questions anyone might have about the next wave of change that is hitting us now and lay to rest most fears people have, all in exchange for a couple of hours of time.

Q:What are you most looking forward to at the #DigitalEconomyCongress in Vancouver, BC in October?

A: Even as active practitioners in the development of this digital economy that we are building together, we rarely take time out to see where we’re at, compare notes, discuss the impact of it all, and make sure that the changes we enable are on the whole good for our society rather than just interesting business ideas. The congress gives us a chance to do exactly that, and personally I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

This post is part of Reboot Communications’ “Expert’s Corner” series. The 2nd Annual Digital Economy Congress is happening on October 9-10, 2014, in Vancouver, BC. Find out how you can get involved here.

Bernd Petak - Consultant, Bernd Petak Consulting

Bernd Petak is an advisor, mentor, consultant and investment professional to early and mid-stage internet-driven technology companies and their investors. After eight years as an engineer he graduated with a MBA from the University of Western Ontario Ivey School. Bernd finished a tenure at Deloitte as a partner responsible for the firm’s regional strategy and […]