• September 8, 2016

Industrial Revolution 2.0: Is Your Enterprise Keeping Pace?

The digital future is pivoting from user interfaces to user experiences. 

Guest Author: Michael Friedenberg, CEO of IDG Communications

Welcome to the 21st-century industrial revolution. Every job, every business, every individual existence is transforming. The shift has been propelled by the abundance of computing capacity available at our fingertips.

This revolution is the result of a confluence of events. The conventional web, a hub of simple communications channels, has morphed into a globe-spanning network of data-rich exchanges driven by mobile, social, connected devices, and transactional interactions embedded with predictive potential.

At the same time, there has been a profound platform shift. The web is pivoting from desktop and client-server computing to the SMAC stack, a platform built on social, mobile, analytics, and cloud. Each element has the potential to reengineer existing processes anywhere in the world.

Grassroots Innovation

In the last century, innovation emerged largely from the top tiers of organizations before trickling down. Now it’s bubbling up from the ground floor: consumers and the organizational rank and file. Consider this: Nearly every other person walking the planet possesses a mobile device with the computational prowess of a 1970s-era supercomputer. Faced with the sheer numerical force of this digital tidal wave, organizations will have to reengineer their operations to adapt. Or be swept away.

The key to tapping this transformative power is to understand from where this new industrial revolution springs. Over the last few years, there has been a decisive shift in the IT center of gravity. It has transitioned from backward-looking reporting systems to forward-looking systems of insight; from structured information to unstructured data; from separate analytics processes to analytics seamlessly embedded in applications; and from processing in data centers to computing at the edge.

And that’s only the beginning. The nexus of forces—social, mobile, cloud, and analytics—that just a few short years ago seemed exotic are now mainstream. 3-D printing and additive manufacturing, machine learning, and robotics are likely headed there.

Rise of the Nimble Enterprise 

How can enterprises navigate the disruptions? Leaders need to recognize that digital transformation is not vanilla. Processes and outcomes will by necessity be different for every industry and enterprise. To succeed, the enterprise must undertake the challenging task of articulating its position in the digital space, and in the experiences of its customers.

Through deep analytics, the enterprise now has the capability to understand on deeper levels how its offerings fit into the lives of its customers. For example, a smartphone company in China has developed a business model that dispenses with marketing programs and budgets in favor of customer collaboration initiatives. It releases new versions of its software every week and recalibrates based on customer input.

The digital future is decisively pivoting from user interfaces and transactions to user experiences. Successful organizations will drive customer experiences featuring interactions that are essentially frictionless.

 The transformation task is continuous. Enterprises that relentlessly embrace it will reap the benefits of fully enabled employees, fully engaged customers, and data-driven insights—powerful elements of the art and science of anticipating the future. These enterprises will move faster with the agility to generate market value, even under adverse conditions. They will possess the capability to transform stale mechanisms into dynamic systems—and bring with the change the potential to revolutionize cultural experiences on a global level.

Like this story? Find out if you really know what disruption means.