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Digital technologies are permeating and reshaping all aspects of economic and social activity. They disrupt existing activities in some ways, while in others they have a more incremental impact and complement existing activities. In some cases, they replace existing technologies and tasks, while in others, they complement them.

They can sometimes result in the development of new activities, services, innovations, and business opportunities. Digitalization is powerful because it not only allows for automation but also tracks and stores information and data about tasks and activities, resulting in a record that can be analyzed and provides opportunities to improve processes, work organization, and forecast future events (Zuboff, 1988). (Agrawal et al., 2018). The ability to digitally model the analog world has sparked a wave of both innovation and hype.

Investigating the relationship between digital technologies, innovation, and skills

As a result of von Neumann-based digital computing, individual technologies have proliferated, ranging from decades-old computers and industrial robots to “intelligent” machines that can “learn” (machine learning). Not surprisingly, given the diversity of technologies, different studies provide different definitions and categorizations of digital technologies.

To better understand the complex and dialectical relationships between innovation, skills, and digital technologies, we must first improve our understanding of the coevolution of connected digital technology trajectories, firm innovation strategies, and skills. Digital technology advancements are not entirely exogenous.

Digital transformations in the economy and society are both the result and the source of innovation. Digital technologies necessitate the development of new skills as well as the incorporation of new skills into production processes to support the new organization of innovating firms, their buyers and suppliers, even as they result in a reconfiguration of the division of labor. These factors also have an impact on the process of innovation and the development of new digital technologies.

Production and innovation processes are being reorganized

This coevolution of digital technologies, innovation, and skills has an impact on how firms organize their activities within and between themselves (). Here are some examples, with primary, manufacturing, and service activities distinguished.

Digitalized activities appear to be particularly placeless, as they can be completed from anywhere with an internet connection and a computer.

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