Digital Transformation to the Information Superhighway

Now that we’re all familiar with the brand and its virtual conference experience, a remarkable start to what we’re going to explore here begins with noting that Zoom ended April, 2020, hosting 300,000,000 daily meeting participants.

That’s a number without context so let’s give it some. Just 5 years ago, Zoom hosted 40,000,000 users, just shy of two years before reaching a valuation of $1 billion as Sequoia Capital invested $100 million. That valuation found its way to just short of $16 billion as the company went public in April 2019

Welcome to The Information Age

The humble transistor

The Information Age is the historic period of humanity beginning in the late 20th century, characterized by the rapid shift from traditional industry spawned by the Industrial Revolution. The onset of the era in which we find ourselves is largely associated with the development of the transistor but really dawned is our economy found information technology.

Begging a question… how well have you found information technology?

The transistor, invented by the engineers Walter Houser Brattain and John Bardeen at Bell Labs in 1947, was drastically improved upon in 1959 when Bell Labs’ Mohamed M. Atalla and Dawon Kahng invented the MOS transistor, and MOS transistors revolutionized the electronics industry, found today in everything from computers to smartphones. The MOS transistor is the building block of every memory chip, microprocessor, and telecommunications circuit in the world today.

Moore’s Law,  named after Gordon Moore, co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, noted that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

In the 1960s, cables connected terminals to mainframes and by the end of the 1960s, ARPANET, established by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the United States Department of Defense developed computer-to-computer networking, which in 1974 became known as the Internet This expanded to become the Internet (coined by Vinton Cerf, Yogen Dalal, and Carl Sunshine at Stanford University).

With the consumer adoption of the Internet in the 1990s, business would forever be changed as everyone of us, from entrepreneur to employee, found ourselves impacted by “The Information Superhighway”

The Information Superhighway

Whether you realize it or not, you’re on this freeway of information. That fact that you take a pit stop at a website or social network can be a little misleading of the fact that information continues to race past you in this information age.

Believe it or not, “The Information Superhighway” was in fact coined by Al Gore (or so it’s believed); while that bit of historic trivia has been mocked to suggest Vice President Gore invented the internet (he did not), it is considered true that in a presentation from [then Senator] Gore to some computer industry professionals, he introduced the idea of the Superhighway.

Here’s what we want you to appreciate, on this superhighway, we’re accelerating.

Moore’s Law – Author: Max Roser

Moore’s Law has held true, and with Quantum Computing on the horizon, it shows no sign of slowing.

Take that chart to heart with one simple reminder, since 1970, everything online has been going faster and faster.

This is the information superhighway.

A quantum computer harnesses a near mystical phenomena of quantum mechanics, the qubit, to deliver huge leaps forward in processing power.

Zoom total meeting participants   
May 20131 million
June 201410 million
February 201540 million
Come 2020: 300 million
Source: TMCnetZoom, and GlobeNewswire

We’ve zoomed to 300 million people on video conference calls in the blink of an eye.

Now, we don’t want the accelerating adoption of the internet to be overshadowed by the coronavirus health crisis of 2020 but in the last few months, adoption of the internet has doubled or more.

Whether appreciating how the internet works or deferring to coronavirus as the reason you need to figure this out, now is the time. Christy Cardenas, Managing Partner of Ecliptic Capital, affirmed with Crunchbase that this crisis has triggered a “digital everything” approach.

Are you online as your consumer is increasingly so? DE-CIX Management, which provides internet connections throughout the world, reported that in one week alone in March, online and cloud gaming platform use more than doubled.

This is the information superhighway and the speed at which it moves. And that’s an analogy I thought we might explore as our world experiences the largest digital transformation in human history.

A Website on the Information Superhighway

Most of you have a website. Perhaps you tweet, write a blog post now and then, and have tried a video or getting behind the microphone and podcasting.

You’ve invested the equivalent amount of effort in your business as setting up a trailer selling goods on the side of the freeway.

As websites and social media groups are tripling in size, I’d hazard a guess that many of you are still scratching your head at having tried blogging, wondering how all these companies are exploding online while you can barely get a visit to your website.

Appreciate that superhighway analogy; if you have merely setup a website, the ‘cars‘ online are racing past you at a million miles per hour. You can’t get the attention of anyone on a freeway by merely putting up a sign that says, “buy now.”

What is a Digital Transformation?

A digital transformation is the use of online technology and media in all areas of your business, from how you deliver value and operate to how you reach and engage customers.

Even if you’re online, you are effectively stuck on the side of the road unless your business is on that information superhighway, doubling in pace as much as everything else.

Digital transformations are cultural changes, requiring constantly challenging your status quo, testing, optimizing, and getting comfortable with failure on the path to better.

This is MediaTech

Clint Boulton with CIO, referred to a digital transformation as a necessary disruption. “It starts with the business outcomes and the new business models you’re going after and working backwards from there,” says Genpact CEO Tiger Tyagarajan, who advises enterprises on digital strategy.

Media Technology, the phrase referring to the innovations in media, encompasses the transformation through which your organization must transform if it hopes to be seen as more than a blur as customers whiz past your business for the the next tweet to fly past their screen.

To keep up with the pace of the superhighway, to be seen online and to transform your business to a digital culture, consider a few new values as an organization:

  • Focus on your objectives more than the path to getting there. Digital transformations require the concerted effort of all departments, from Finance to Customer Support, and your leadership must align on the path to try so that everything you’re doing can iterate as quickly as possible toward that objective.

In 2004, a journalist with London’s Financial Times did the unthinkable; he resigned to pursue a future in digital publishing.  Eleven years later, in 2015, when Financial Times, was sold to to a Japanese digital media company. CEO, John Fallon, remarked, “In this new environment, the best way to ensure [Financial Times’] journalistic and commercial success is for it to be part of a global, digital news company.” 

  • Think comprehensively. Turn to advisors sophisticated in online media and technology to guide you to change everything effectively and efficiently.  McKinsey, last year, found that organization wide transformations are 1.5 times more likely than others successful. Incremental changes can handicap the impact of a complete transformation to digital.
  • Be a Media company. When see the Red Bull logo and your mind turns to energy drinks, are you aware of it as a media company? The company is also the owner of media properties including one of the first marketer-branded channels on Apple TV.
  • In fact, be an Omnimedia company. “The reality is we now live in a multi-platform, multi-channel, micro- media world, and the trend is moving towards ever greater media fragmentation – vidcasts, podcasts, blogs, micro-blogging, Twitter, etc. It is no longer possible to operate a business the old way – such as sending out a news release on Businesswire and briefing a handful of journalists, and sitting back” Tom Foremski.
  • Analytics, adapt, and iterate. The day of a website redesign are LONG over. A single investment in a platform or a look at business metrics static in time, are worthless. Look to weekly releases, changes, and improvements to your team, strategy, technology, and online experiences.
  • Be Agile. You may have heard the term, “agile development,” but what we really want you to appreciate is not the technical application of agile but rather what it simply means: a method of management characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work with frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans. Start now.
Liyu 2004d Taishan Super Highway

We want you to benefit, as are so many, from this superhighway. And just as you imagine cars racing past faster than you can see, getting their attention requires, on this highway, that you are ever present, ever active, and effectively online. A digital transformation is a concept popularized by big consulting but accessible to us all because it quite simply means operating your business with digital first. Let’s do that.

Comments on Digital Transformation to the Information Superhighway

  • Jennifer Keenan

    Thank you, I will integrate the above into my design, plan and approach. The description for agile is by far the best definition I’ve ever read.


  • Alan Daniel

    Worth a read. Paul is one of the most creative and brightest bulbs in Tech. Glad he’s in Austin and an evangelist for media tech.

  • Max Spitsyn

    Thank you! This is an excellent validation for what I aiming to accomplish. To add a few points, it is paramount to be actually in capacity to pump out tons of content – meaning working on data architecture and automation tools. Simply, your data must be ready for the volume. Otherwise it’s just trying to push a horse cart on the said freeway 🙂

  • Paul O’Brien

    Great analogy and well said Max Spitsyn, Ph.D., that yes, the data architecture and automation are key considerations to a capable digital transformation.

  • Alan Daniel

    Inspiring and informative piece.

  • nikam yangfo

    can you tell us more about how can we use or take benefit of digital transformation?

  • Eric Samdahl

    This article is such a great read.

    So important now to focus on your customer.

    Great job Paul O’Brien


  • Paul O’Brien

    Cheers Eric Samdahl, I’ve been encouraged to get a follow up going to explore more specifically what to do. Stay tuned (and ping me if you have any thoughts pertinent to that; a quote?)

  • Lance Vaughn

    Thank you for sharing, Paul. Very good insight!

Digital Transformation to the Information Superhighway

by Paul O'Brien time to read: 6 min