Team CDE – Dr Erwin Fielt

Dr Erwin Fielt is a Chief Investigator with the Centre for the Digital Economy and Senior Lecturer within QUT’s Science and Engineering Faculty.

What is your research focus?

My research focuses on the intersection between business and information technology, where new technologies and applications must create value for individuals and organisations. Specific areas of interest relate to issues around (digital) innovation, strategy and business models.

In one of my projects, we are looking at data-driven business models. We try to understand how data is changing the way of doing business beyond improving decision-making or business processes. We are looking beyond the usual suspects (tech companies and start-ups) and want to understand how this can also create opportunities for more traditional organisations.

In another project, we are looking at the discourse around digital technologies and innovations on social media platforms. We know that the technology discourse can influence the adoption and diffusion of digital innovations, but what happens if that discourse itself becomes digitised?

What excites you most about the digital economy?

That it never stops developing, and we are just at the start. That it often turns out quite different from what we expected. That it is full of contradictions. That we are in the middle of it and can shape it. That we can practice what we preach. That we now take things for granted that we thought were impossible 10 years ago. That it is sometimes hard to tell (beforehand) if a new idea is brilliant or just crazy, or sometimes both.

What specifically fascinates me is how data and algorithms, combined with connectivity, can make things seamlessly that used to require a lot of effort or were not possible at all. And while it looks simple from the outside, e.g., seeing if a product is in store or getting an Uber, it is often quite complex on the inside. This kind of ‘simplified complexity’ is what makes working on new digital business models so interesting.

Are you an optimist or pessimist about the future?

Pessimist by nature, optimist by choice. “Over the long term, the future is decided by optimists. To be an optimist you don’t have to ignore all the many problems we create; you just have to imagine improving our capacity to solve problems.” (Kevin Kelly)

Finish this sentence: In 2050, there will be a new world order claiming back the digital human rights we are now giving up too easily for “free” services.

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