Radical Manifesto for modern times – Part Three:  Preparing for the nuclear option

Published by Roger Camrass
January 27, 2022 @ 9:00 AM


Radical Manifesto for modern times – Part Three:  Preparing for the nuclear option



A radical manifesto was contained in two books published at the start of the new millennium:  ‘The Atomic Corporation – a rational proposal for modern times (2001)’15; and ‘Atomic –  reforming the industrial landscape into the new structures of tomorrow (2003)’16.  

This trilogy of three short papers examines the confluence of disruptive forces that led to:  the requirement for a new theory of the firm (Part One); the radical predictions that preceded  the dotcom revolution of the past two decades (Part Two); the need for a fresh vision of the  future up to 2040 (Part Three). 



The story so far 

In Parts One and Two of this three-part trilogy, we described the disruptive, technological  forces that called for a new theory of the firm. These included the rise of cloud, social media,  data analytics and mobile, all of which were supported by the birth of the internet and World  Wide Web at the end of the twentieth century. Our thesis across Parts One and Two was  that in a hyper-connected world, large and complex organisational structures were largely  obsolete. In their place, we hypothesised a set of discrete organisational ‘atoms’ or ‘Lego  Bricks’ that would populate the digital landscape. These atoms would be underpinned by  service and asset platforms that would provide scale and scope. This atomisation gave rise  to a new ‘periodic table’ of corporate elements that could fulfil commercial functions in the  twenty-first century. 

But it’s now 20 years since we first advanced the atomic theory of the firm. Further  technological disruption on a massive scale is expected during the next two decades. Such  disruptions are likely to include blockchain, non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrencies,  artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation, the Internet of Things and drones,  augmented and virtual reality giving rise to the Metaverse, 3D printing, quantum and edge  computing, and much more. These advances are a second disruptive wave of technologies  that will shape events in the coming two decades. 

Next-generation Web 3.0 

What is now apparent is that the World Wide Web is yet again in transition. Having originated  in the early 1990s as a somewhat passive repository of content, search engines and limited  e-commerce (referred to collectively as Web 1.0), the Web rapidly evolved post-2004 into  an interactive platform (Web 2.0) that today provides the foundation for mobile apps, smart  phones and online communities, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram. The  result of this shift is that four billion people now interact daily on Web 2.0, and 10 Big Tech  companies account for more than a fifth of global equity value.  

Moving forward, we believe technologies such as blockchain will support the transition to a  third generation of the Web, commonly referred to as Web 3.0. This generation will be a new  era of decentralised architectures that could further threaten large and powerful corporations,  old and new. In Web 2.0, it was possible for Big Tech to centralise data management and  commercial control. In a decentralised economy, this feat might no longer be either desirable  or feasible. Big Tech valuations based on their monopoly influence over ‘our’ personal data 

could be under threat. Institutions of all kinds, such as banks, might break apart within a  decentralised finance (De-Fi) landscape. So, what comes next? What might be the organising  principles of the Web 3.0 economy? 

A new era of hyper-personalisation 

In the digital economy, information about our personal lifestyles and experiences is  becoming the primary source of value around which most commerce takes place. This value  is encapsulated in digital assets, including information about relationships, monetisation of  our personal artifacts (NFTs), and our virtual properties (such as the open-source virtual world,  Decentraland). We are moving from the era of ‘my physical stuff’ to ‘my digital experiences’.  These experiences must be captured, stored, retrieved and monetised over time. It is worth  reiterating the value of data. Big Tech already comprises 25% of S&P 500 value. Within the  coming decade, this proportion could exceed 50%. This value creation relates directly to Big  Tech’s ability to monetise our personal data for the benefit of vendors. 

The metaverse, which incorporates virtual reality experiences, will further accelerate the move  towards the new epoch of hyper-personalisation. Fresh personal and collective experiences  will emerge and generate economic value. Think, for example, of the potential for this virtual  technology to create new experiences in the sex and defence industries. Events of all kinds  for work and play will take place virtually. Families might even live within this virtual space,  purchasing mutual properties in open spaces such as Decentraland. 

When it comes to physical products, embedded software and sensors will monitor our use of  personal ‘stuff’ across the product lifecycle, sending reports constantly to manufacturers. These  suppliers will be able to upgrade their products iteratively to align with our personal contexts.  As Tesla is already demonstrating in the automotive industry, upgrades will extend the value and  life of physical entities, whether that’s cars, white goods, homes or even smart cities. 

The economics of information intimacy 

We hypothesise that our intellectual property and that of the communities we interact with  will be the primary source of value in Web 3.0. The big question for us today, however, is who  owns and controls our intellectual property? The current answer is the Big Tech behemoths  that trade our data to third parties for money. This trade in data has fuelled a boom in pop ups across every internet site we visit. In a decentralised economy, we expect to see a radical  shift of ownership. Individuals will seize their data back from the digital giants. Today, the only  trustworthy parties in this respect are the banks who are barred from reselling our data – yet  we see little value in return, especially given their inability to derive useful insights from such  information. 

So, where will value reside in the digital economy? Here are some possible pockets of value: 

  • Information about our lifestyles, DNA and aspirations could become manifest in digital  artifacts or NFTs (a recent family experience or plans for a future vacation). 
  • Commercial trading of such information within a special interest community or out to a  public marketplace (like eBay but involving only digital assets or NFTs). 
  • Digital products or experiences that are customised to the individual, being designed  specifically to suit their personal context (such as tailored cures for cancer). 
  • Currencies embedded in blockchains, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, that are used as a  means of value exchange.

The rise of the digital artisan 

A combination of factors provides us with a unique opportunity to reform the current  business landscape into the new structures of tomorrow. We believe these factors include  changing millennial attitudes, loss of trust in large institutions, hybrid working and the ‘great  resignation’, plus the technologies necessary to make change. Our proposition is that value  will sit with the individual rather than Big Tech companies.  

We will reassert our authority as individuals within a decentralised, Web 3.0 world that is fast forming around us by controlling our intellectual property and associated information assets. 

With the help of AI and software robotics, we envisage the rise of the digital artisan – an  individual who can generate vast amounts of economic wealth, perhaps beyond billions of  dollars and into trillions. We will no longer need the atomic, two-pizza teams that emerged in  the era of Web 2.0. Instead, we will see such artisans performing several value-adding tasks.  These might include: 

  • The digital producer – Creating new experiences within the metaverse and attracting  influencers to promote these events. 
  • The digital convener – Bringing similar-minded individuals together to share their life  experiences, hobbies and friendships. 
  • The data hoarder – Acting as a personal or community custodian for valuable data that  needs to be organised and secured. 

To enable these ‘frontline’ digital workers to flourish within the hyper-personalised and hyper connected economy, we believe other individuals will provide the tools and platforms to  support their activities: 

  • The data miner – Providing software tools to help individuals capture, store and assemble  their own intellectual property. 
  • The digital tool maker – Using open-source software to generate tools that help in all  aspects of data management and security. 
  • The web plumber – Engineering new features to enhance the web, especially in areas such  as specialised sector platforms. 

We believe the emergence of this scenario is probable because of advances in automation,  AI, open sourcing and decentralised platforms. It’s also important to note the possibility that  digital artisans could live together in collective communes that will resemble villages.  

Birth of the digital village 

Many city centre high-rise offices are already being turned into collective living and working  spaces. With the advent of hybrid working, we can expect an acceleration of these trends,  especially as 80% of the world’s population continues to live in just 500 cities. These  communal dwellings, as with the socio-economic organisation of the eighteenth century, will  take on the characteristics of a traditional village with virtual high streets and meeting areas.  These physical domains might be twinned with virtual reality spaces, such as Decentraland  and Second Life, to enrich social interaction and community activity. 

The prospect is for a gradual blurring between physical and virtual reality where information is  the common currency. This is also the case for the movement of physical goods, where supply  chains are twinned with digital systems comprised of blockchains.

What are the implications for today’s corporations? 

Digital leaders, such as CIOs and CTOs, would be unwise to dismiss Web 3.0 and blockchain.  You will need to pay close attention to developments here as they could disrupt business  models during the next 10 years. New organisational forms will emerge that could undermine  your franchise. The potential for change must be shared across the C-suite and incorporated  into business plans. Scenario planning is a valuable tool for assessing disruptions, especially  during periods of uncertainty. 

You should continue to modernise your organisations to improve efficiencies, as well as to  increase agility and innovation potential. Just as software-as-a-service offerings are helping  to hollow out corporate bureaucracies within the back office, new Web 3.0 services, such as  smart contracts and workplace automation technologies, could trim corporate administration.  But even this adoption of emerging technology will only help to perpetuate corporate survival  for a few more years.  

It is reasonable to assume that large scale production of physical goods will continue well  into the future, although 3D printing could localise much of this process to cities and gated  communities (the digital village). However, digital technologies, such as blockchains, sensors  and drones, will be required to increase the flexibility and agility of physical supply chains to  meet the demand from online consumers for higher availability. 

In parallel, corporates will need to divert their scarce funds and skills into seeding and  hyper-scaling new business models that are designed to suit the Web 3.0 environment.  This shift will require mastery of new software-related techniques, including blockchain, NFTs,  AI and robotics.  

To paraphrase the words of Marc Andreesen, Software is (still) eating the World. 

What are the implications for digital leaders? 

As we see in the CIONET Cookbook – recipes for digital success17, leaders must adapt to  new economic paradigms such as atomisation. Successful leaders today recognise that the  future will be different, but its form is still unclear. These leaders change their organisations by  overseeing agile teams of digital and line-of-business employees to deliver solutions in weeks  and months rather than years. 

Of even greater importance is the need for a credible vision from digital leaders that can  excite staff with a sense of purpose and a feeling of belonging. The war for digital talent  has never been more intense. The churn of talent has never had a more draining impact on  organisations. The great resignation and new prospects for digital artisans could accelerate  the rush of talent out of legacy organisations, just as it did at the start of the dotcom boom.  

Perhaps the smartest lesson for a digital leader today is to maintain their network of  talented staff, many of whom will become the productive hubs of the nuclear landscape.  Organisational boundaries will blur. Power will reside within communities of talented artisans  rather than within defensible corporate borders.



  1. Roger Camrass is Research Director for CIONET International, a global community of over 10,000 digital  leaders. See www.rogercamrass.com for recent blogs and publications
  2. CIONET Cookbook for Digital Success, sponsored by RedHat and Intel and to be published in January 2022
  3.  Closing the Innovation Gap – A ‘C’ suite imperative, published by CIONET UK and the Savannah Group in 2020 
  4. Atomic Corporation: a rational proposal for modern time, published by Capstone in 2001. Roger Camrass and  Martin Farncombe with forward by Chris Meyer
  5. Atomic: reforming the business landscape into the new structures of tomorrow, published by Capstone-Wiley in  2003. Roger Camrass and Martin Farncombe, with foreword by Chris Meyer
  6. The innovator’s dilemma: when new technologies cause great companies to fail. Authored by Clayton  Christensen and published by Harvard University Press in 1997
  7. Scenario planning: managing for the future. Gill Ringland and forwarded by Peter Schwartz. Published by J  Wiley in 2006
  8. Atomic Corporation: a rational proposal for modern time published by Capstone in 2001. Roger Camrass and  Martin Farncombe, with foreword by Chris Meyer
  9. Atomic: reforming the business landscape into the new structures of tomorrow published by Capstone-Wiley in  2003. Roger Camrass and Martin Farncombe, with foreword by Chris Meyer
  10. Unbundling the Corporation published in the Harvard Business Review, March 1999. John Hagel III and Mark  Singer
  11. Blown to Bits: how the new economics of information transforms strategy, published by the Boston Consulting  Group in 2000. Authors, Phil Evans and Tom Wurster
  12. The innovator’s dilemma: when new technologies cause great companies to fail. Authored by Clayton  Christensen and published by Harvard University Press in 1997
  13.  The Internet Services Venture Vehicle was a position paper published by Roger Camrass, senior partner at EY  responsible for e-commerce, in 2001. It can be downloaded at www.rogercamrass.com/publications/
  14. Scenario planning: managing for the future. Gill Ringland and foreword by Peter Schwartz. Published by J  Wiley in 2006
  15. Atomic Corporation: a rational proposal for modern time published by Capstone in 2001. Roger Camrass and  Martin Farncombe, with foreword by Chris Meyer
  16. Atomic: reforming the business landscape into the new structures of tomorrow published by Capstone-Wiley in  2003. Roger Camrass and Martin Farncombe, with foreword by Chris Meyer
  17. CIONET Cookbook – sponsored by RedHat and Intel and due for publication in January 2022




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