Trends in Digital Technologies and Corporate Digitization – 2018

Digital disruptors are transforming how consumers engage in the sharing economy and use digital wallets to exchange crypto currencies. Digitally savvy consumers are expecting businesses to also engage with them in the social platforms of their choosing.

Technologies have continued to mature in 2017 and ‘digitization’ has moved beyond a buzzword. Business and tech executives continue to execute ‘digital transformations’ that bring greater automation, user-self-service, and enable advanced eCommerce and SMAC techniques to engage with customers.

Dr. Sally Ride, Mission Specialist, on the flight deck of the space shuttle Challenger (NASA Orbital Vehicle 099) during her first mission, STS-7, when she became the first American woman in space as well as the youngest astronaut to orbit--a record that she still holds.

Image credit:Bill Sargent

Corporate Digital experiences: Consumers Define expectations

Digitization and business disruptions attributable to “Digital Transformation”  has been discussed at global forums like the World Economic Forum, where there have bee call to action (link):

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution builds on the Third Industrial Revolution, also known as the Digital Revolution, which entailed the proliferation of computers and the automation of record keeping; but the new wave of transformation differs from its predecessors in a few key ways.”

News articles frequently highlight stories of startups upending existing business models.  Business leaders and MBA students continue to review case studies of Uber and Airbnb shaping the sharing economy and building cult-like following. Similarly, economists and financial analysts continue to scratch their head over the irrational exuberance of the price of Bitcoins jumping over $15,000 in December of 2017.

Many digital innovations are bring driven by entrepreneurs who think like a consumer: After I request a cab on my Uber App, I get a confirmation with details of my driver, type/color/plate of the car and likewise, my details shared with the driver. Same goes for a tweet to my Airline asking for a special meal on my booking; or a comment I post on a corporate page of Facebook or LinkedIn. The impatient consumer in me expects an almost instantaneous “human like” response; like when I am in front of a ticketing agent or on a call with a customer representative.

Getting a quick digital-response releases the right bit of dopamine, cementing a closer relationship with the brand. Not getting an agile response does the opposite. While the dopamine effect of social media is a hot topic of research among psychologists (link), corporate designers must take note. Not receiving a tweet from my airline confirming my special meal request is not a mere annoyance, but rather an act that may make me reconsider that airline during a travel future booking.

Simply put, executives need to continually take the ‘consumer’ mindset and explore opportunities to visualize “digital services.”


Digitization in the corporate world

Corporate executives are pushing their organizations to take on the challenge of digital disruption by evolving solutions that leveraging Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) strategies and other emerging technologies highlighted this report.

Digital insights come from peers in the industry, while some of it is a reaction to competitive forces. Execution of corporate digitization starts with user stories that aim to provide tangible benefits and innovations – medical insurance companies goading consumers towards video-chat with doctors, auto insurers offering “usage-based insurance” by leveraging analytics of data from devices used on cars by drivers, banks working to minimize foot-traffic at branches etc.

As enterprises continue their digitization journey, technologists are also reflecting on Digitization as an uber term for IT transformation. (ref: “Digital” isn’t just IT done the right way !). The technology enablers for digitization incrementally build on existing design and development methodologies and EA techniques.

The author defined a pragmatic approach to execute “Digital Strategies” in a recently published executive update  (Ref: Cutter Consortium). The premise of the approach is rather straightforward – execution requires business and IT leaders to identify distinct categories that a transformation program might fall into:

  • Lights-on digitization
  • Digital Excellence
  • Customer-centric digitization

The roadmap for successful execution should focus on technology enablers including Non-Functional Requirements (NFR), Integration principles, tools and technologies, Data and analytics that will underpin successful digitization.

The promise of digitization needs to be addressed with fundamental system integration issues to ensure technologies work in cohesion. This also also requires an analysis of fundamental challenges of executing IT transformations: Organizations also struggle to enable comprehensive eCommerce solutions (link) or design for responsiveness in social media (link) that consumers have come to expect.


Digital Solutions from across industries

  • Digitization in Food IndustryGeneral Mills taps into the ingenuity of startup companies – One year ago, the leaders at General Mills had a revelation: It couldn’t keep up. Specifically, the food giant was struggling to develop new, creative products at the pace of innovation that is required in today’s ever-changing food industry. – Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS
  • Digitiaztion in InsuranceInsurers are beginning to partner with and acquire technology startups to secure their competitive edge. According to Gartner research, 64 percent of the world’s 25 largest insurance companies have already invested directly or indirectly via their venture capital arms in insurtech startups.
  • Supply Chain – Leading VC firms Kalaari Capital and Norwest Venture Partners have quietly made a US$2 million seed investment in a startup in stealth mode, according to Termsheet, an online platform for angel investing.
  • Marketing – Salesforce acquired Krux, a company that tracks traffic (“data signatures”) across multiple devices — desktop, mobile, tablet, set-top — and channels — display, social, search, video.
  • Start-up outreach – IT major IBM is sharpening the focus of its SmartCamp outreach programme for the start-up ecosystem — from an across-the-board approach to one that makes it industry specific. “From this year, we started adding an industry focus… will continue looking at industry segments as the start-up space is ever evolving,” said Seema Kumar, country manager-ecosystem development, IBM India and South Asia. (The Hindu)