FOCUS: A Digital Business is not a Trend, its Today's Reality
My 84 year old father, like many of his generation think 'cloud computing' is physically located in the cloud and just don't understand what it all means, but cloud computing is no longer an emerging trend. Digital ecosystems, The Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics and resilient architectures are becoming the force that is driving innovation and new opportunities by bringing every object, consumer and activity into the digital realm.
Consumers want instant gratification, but more importantly, want the experience - a seamless integration in the life of a consumer from banking to retail to health needs becomes a given - not just another value added service that is bolted on to otherwise utilitarian products and service offerings. Companies that have embraced this are creating digital ecosystems across different industries.
Crowdsourcing, another evolving trend, makes it possible for your pool of ideas and even resources to go beyond your direct workforce. If creating or running a digital business is a conversation in your boardroom, you have missed the boat - competitive businesses are now digital businesses and if not directly, they are in the digital space through a digital ecosystem. We all know today’s largest hotel is digital 'Airbnb.com', largest taxi service, 'Uber', largest retailer 'Alibaba' and the list goes on.
The ubiquitous nature of the modern technology environment means that information is available on a real-time 24x7 basis
Consider some other key examples of cloud influence and enablement. Smart Cities are popping up all over the world providing access to a wide range of information that will enhance customer experience by linking information that was previously thought to be unrelated. The divide between business, government, health, education, safety and security and the general population is becoming blurred. The ability to understand market needs and the knowledge required in developing and providing relevant products and services across markets will underpin the success of the modern enterprise. Data scientists are finding innovative ways of turning all of this into knowledge. China is currently leading the smart city race with a 12 year plan to roll out 311 smart cities at a cost of ¥1.6Tr. With incomprehensible amounts of data, advanced cloud based analytics and super intelligence that lies just beyond the horizon, our societal way-of-life will be shaped by a quazi digital-human symbiosis.
With digitization already establishing itself as a commodity and designed for rapid and pro-active up or down scaling, the huge costs to establish the platforms and technology required to run modern business can now be viewed as a variable cost. The concept of on demand computing has been around for some time and will become more and more relevant as issues around governance and compliance are dealt with. Time and cost to market is drastically reduced and decommissioning of redundant capacity is now at the flick of a proverbial switch. Amazon is one of the cornerstone examples of instant infrastructure provisioning through its Elastic Cloud services enabling instant and scalable services to setup new environments in a matter of minutes.
The ubiquitous nature of the modern technology environment means that information is available on a real-time 24x7 basis and from touch points of the consumer’s choice, redefining the concept of the nine to five work day and work space. With globalization impacted by time differences, convenient time place and method of access is now expected and no longer value added. The increasing momentum surrounding wearable technologies, virtual and augmented reality leads the way in cementing the cloud as a critical pillar in the future of the world as we know it.
Just considering these examples, it is easy to see that the ability to keep up with the pace of cloud-enabled capabilities will become increasingly challenging and catching up will become more and more daunting with each new wave of advancement. To compete and remain relevant, the new models of businesses and information technology must continue to rapidly evolve, rethink their technology architectures and platforms and even start over to operate exponentially connected world because the game has changed again. Know what’s out there and continuously integrate-rethink-reframe to shape the face of new market offerings.
Those fortunate enough that have embraced digital business as a reality are now positioned to compete on their speed of execution and are finding innovative ways to capture the share of the dynamic markets and remain cutting edge and technologically relevant. The cloud has and will continue – in essence – to afford society with the ability to truly focus on meaningful endeavors i.e. building on the shoulders of virtually unlimited infrastructure and transforming ideas into commercial, social and even environmental benefits.
For my father, 'cloud computing' will always be an 'alien' concept and he may never use 'Uber', but for the rest of us and for his children and grandchildren, every second of our lives are made up of continuous connections with information, apps, services, devices and an addictive search for 'free wifi' to feed this digital world that defines us.