The “Digital Era Framework” is a reference framework for the digital information age presented by Jörn Lengsfeld. Aimed at academia and practitioners alike, the concept offers a comprehensive approach to analysing phenomena of “digital change”, “digitisation” and “digital transformation”.

Digital change is unfolding in an enormous multitude of separate developments. In their interaction they cause profound changes which fundamentally transform the existing economic, social, political, cultural and technical systems in their structure and functional logic. The change has the magnitude of a “transformation”: it gives the shape of the systems a new configuration.

In view of the sheer number of innovations an developments, any description, analysis and design of digital transformation has to be based on a comprehensive overview. It is necessary to systematize the various phenomena of digitization and to describe how they are related to one another.

The “Digital Era Framework” is designed to do exactly this. As a reference framework, it is intended to allow the classification of objects, phenomena and processes on the basis of relevant criteria. The “Digital Era Framework” constitutes an integrated approach for the analysis of digital transformation, in which the original state, the change and the final state can be represented within a uniform scheme of reference.

At the heart of the transformation from an industrial society to the digital information society are two fundamental types of change which concern the form in which information manifests itself and the mode of information use. These are employed as core dimensions in the “Digital Era Framework”.

The criterion of “manifestation” focuses on how information becomes manifest, in which form it takes on its existence and shape. These forms constitute delimitable information spaces, which are referred to here as “spheres”. Four spheres can be differentiated: The “Entisphere”, the “Cognisphere” and the “analog Infosphere” as well as the “digital Infosphere” that is being newly added by digitization. The latter two spheres together form the infosphere.

The second criterion is the “application”, which is the handling of information. Information can be used in different ways. The “Digital Era Framework” distinguishes seven archetypes of the use andmodification of information, which are referred to as “modes of information application”: Creation, representation, transmission, exploration, evaluation, decision, action.

The spheres and modes create a two-dimensional frame of reference that allows a classification of phenomena, objects and activities into 28 categories. Based on this framework, complex systems and processes can be analyzed: By positioning their various elements in relation to the spheres and modes, it can be shown how spheres and modes shape the structure and how this configuration changes as a result of digitization.
The presented reference framework is a tool of abstraction. It serves as a structural model for the description, systematization and analysis of individual phenomena, entire systems and their development over time. It is a basis for explanations and prognoses. And most importantly, it may serve as a basis for the development and evaluation of strategies.

The presentation of the “Digital Era Framework” shall also contribute to the promotion of an adequate specialist terminology by proposing a well-founded nomenclature based on the reference framework. The book contains an extensive glossary with about 430 key words.

How to Cite

The definition given above was proposed as part of the Digital Era Framework by Dr. Dr. Jörn Lengsfeld. The text was first published in: Jörn Lengsfeld: Digital Era Framework. Please refer to the original publication if you want to cite the text.