“Digital” Will Become Passé As It Becomes Pervasive
by Betsy Burton
I was recently perusing through a few technology and services provider websites and, not surprisingly, found organizations using the word “digital” all over their marketing and sales materials. On one hand, this makes a lot of sense, because end-user and technology/service provider organizations are truly interested in changing and transforming their business to support digital business.
However, organizations need to be a bit careful about over-using the word ‘digital’ as a moniker in front of everything, lest it becomes just market noise. Hopefully, some of you remember “e-business”, “client-server”, “service oriented”, or “X 2.0”.
Every hyped term will have its day until it becomes the norm, and then it is passé, and “digital” is no exception.
“Digital Business” Means Something Today
Digital business is a new business model that is specifically designed to proactively reach out to customers and partners with a primary focus on their physical and virtual context. It requires that organizations rethink or create new business strategies and operations to help them achieve these new business models.
And, the reality is, we have been evolving toward digital business for years as organizations have reached out to work with and service their customers more closely.
No Digital Technologies or Digital Processes?
Let’s be clear—unless you haven’t upgraded any of your computer systems since the 1950s or ’60s, then you are already running digital technologies today.
Clearly, the ability for organizations to support digital business is supported and enabled by emerging technologies and business processes (such as IoT, AI, social networking, robotics, gaming, augmented reality, predictive analytics, mobility, and natural language processing); but they aren’t acting alone.
And, there are no “digital processes”, most business processes are actually a combination of human activity, technologies, applications, and information.
And—unless you have been living in a time warp—there aren’t analog businesses.
What makes these technologies and processes work is that they are integrated with existing ERP and CRM applications, HR applications, POS systems, networks, and security and custom applications. This is one of the reasons why a digital business platform is so important; it is the integration platform that is used to bring together emerging technologies and existing systems to support an end-to-end digital business. In fact, one of the most interesting digital business solutions I have seen was a nonprofit that created a digital business platform solution largely out of existing technologies.
Use “Digital”— But Don’t Let it Become a Boat Anchor
I use the term digital business because I want to help organizations think differently about their business strategy, models, and deployment. But we all need to recognize that like any moniker, digital will have its day—which happens to be now.
So, go ahead use the term to help your colleagues, partners, and customers understand what it takes to define a digital business strategy and plans. However, don’t apply it to everything.
Over the next two to three years, thoughtful organizations will cease to use the “digital” moniker as digital business becomes the pervasive business model for engaging, serving and supporting customers and partners.
Digital business will become the norm, and you don’t want to be locked into terminology that makes your technology, business, or solutions seem out of date or limited.
End-users should use these terms to help educate their business and IT counterparts on what digital business is, and how it is supported with emerging and existing technologies. Technology and service providers must be careful about over-using the term, so it just becomes noise; otherwise, risk your technology or solutions being seen as limited once “digital business” becomes just…“ business.”