Is Digital Technology the new ’42’, the ‘Answer to Everything’?

Is Digital Technology the new ’42’, the ‘Answer to Everything’?

As most of us know, in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ from Douglas Adams, ’42’ was seen as the ‘Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything'(see

But nobody knew what the question was…

What has that got to do with ‘Digital’?

Currently, ‘Digital’ is everywhere. Often, new business models are created that work and help us to solve minor or major problems as well as make our life easier – in both business and private life. But sometimes, the ‘Digital hype’ makes it possible that technical solutions are implemented which do not address any pain point of customers (and users respectively) – because the problem cannot simply be solved by new, digital technologies. In this case, the project team (and perhaps also the sponsor) has simply followed the Digital hype. That someone is enthusiastic about technological achievements, does not mean that people really need them. There is perplexity when teams come to realize that they have an excellent product (or service), but nobody buys and/or uses it.

I always recommend starting with a particular challenge and find out about a specific and real world problem that has to be solved. You have to think about the question ‘How might we address this issue?’ Get to know the users and understand their problems. And find out how much they will spend for your product. Use tools such as the Business Model Canvas and Lean Canvas to learn about the business value. This will give you the chance to develop a viable business model, and a solution that can actually convince your customers. And, if new, digital technologies help you to solve your problem, make use of them.

I do not want to overgeneralize things. But, from my point of view, you can say that sometimes, there is a similar context for ‘Digital’ and ’42’. You have an answer (a technical product or service), but nobody knows the question (how can we use that and what was the question?).

What can you do?

If you want to realize a Digital project, there are two important aspects to consider.

  • Don’t forget to address your Business Model, the central pain points and your (internal or external) customer’s needs
  • Think about the six Dimensions of Digital (see also my blog post ‘The Dimensions of Digital‘) and whether you actually can speak about a Digital project in your case

However, there are many other aspects which are relevant, but I want to keep this post to the point. Hopefully, in your Digital projects and ventures, the challenge, the central pain points, and the problems are known and addressed – and your Digital project is not just about technology (see ‘The Dimensions of Digital‘). However, ‘Digital’ and ’42’ are two very different animals. And that’s how it should be in future – it depends on all of us.

Any questions? I have a proven and structured approach to guide companies through the Digital shift. Please do not hesitate to contact me for any details. Let’s arrange to discuss, by phone or in person, the aspects that matter most to you.

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