The Programmable Economy: An imaginative journey 15 years into the future – Greg Dickason

“The Distributed Autonomous Organisation (DAO) is dead, not really long live that DAO! “, Source: Anonymous (2021)

It is 2031 and the world of work has changed.  How organisations operate, and how people work in them, has changed.

We now have 2 different types of organisations: the ‘evolved’ business and the ‘autonomous’ business.

Both are customer experience machines: rapidly pivoting to meet every micro need of every customer.

Evolved businesses are those businesses that survived the digital, blockchain and microservice disruptions of the twenty-teens and twenty-twenties.  They did this though co-opting disruptive technologies, working together in industry consortiums (ecosystems) and relentlessly focusing on customer experience.  These evolved businesses where once banks, insurance companies, utilities and other product orientated businesses.   They are now customer experience businesses that provide for the full end to end needs of their customers: a bank no longer just provides a mortgage, it provides the service of locating a home, negotiating a purchase price, legally settling, insuring and then moving into a property.  It then helps maintain the property, optimise utility costs, increase the asset value of, and get revenue share on parts of the property through AirBnB and other sharing platforms.

The bank has evolved into ‘your home partner’ delivering to all your home needs with its partners in its ecosystem.

Autonomous businesses, on the other hand, are the new businesses that started to arrive once the API driven, service economy was established.  With the rise of APIs in the twenty-teens, most business services became decomposed into ‘microservices’: business relevant functions that were highly specialised.  Microservices such as ID verification, home delivery, property valuation, home repair, car pooling and others were made possible and became trusted through platforms such as Uber, Airtasker, Veda ID verification, and CoreLogic’s valuation services.  Autonomous platforms which allowed these microservices to be orchestrated into processes that delivered an end to end service to a customer became easier and easier to create.  Once Blockchain technology was adopted with smart contracts to define how ‘employees’ worked together to deliver customer centred services, autonomous businesses started to compete directly with evolved businesses.  They were new models of business: horizontally organised, their very structure a software program (smart contract), and built to allow the customers participation in their own service fulfillment experience.


In 2016 we should have seen it all coming.  Digital disruption was well underway, more and more processes were getting exposed as API’s and what were once sophisticated business processes such as the valuation of a property or the credit checking of a consumer were becoming highly efficient near instant microservices available not only to banks but to any consumer business.   The game was all about customer experience, with the back office automated away to microservice providers.  Businesses in 2016 increasingly saw the need to be participants in the consumers’ end to end experience and started sharing consumer data with each other.  In 2016 the first Blockchain solutions were also starting to show their promise, from fundraising in the first (flawed) DAO, to Peer-to-Peer lending with internet giants like Alipay, to rental payment disbursements and management of deposits in escrow (Midasium).

In 2016 we also saw the enormous growth in the sharing economy, particularly with Uber, Airtasker and AirBnB.  All exposed their services through API’s and so allowed themselves to be orchestrated.

By 2017 exceptional customer experiences were starting to be provided such as the being picked up in a Telsa Model S from Uber, being driven to a AirBnB penthouse apartment overlooking Times Square and getting an Airtasker cooked gourmet meal.  All able to be orchestrated from a smart contract on a blockchain.

It didn’t take long for this thinking to be applied to traditional processes such as purchasing a home or getting a mortgage.

By 2031 the world was a co-operating and competing ecosystem of customer service providers orchestrating hyper-efficient microservices to create brilliant service experiences for their customers.  The provision of service was now programmable, we had a programmable economy.

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