Friday, February 26, 2016

Digital Transformation - A Revolution in Precision Through IoT, Mobility and Analytics

Fog of War
Sensors allow us to digitally monitor our physical world, and take real-time action on the data from afar.  Plant managers, in fact, can manage multiple manufacturing locations around the world in real-time via sensors and Internet connectivity.  Drone pilots in the Nevada desert; project military force by flying combat missions around the world via sensors and remote control.  Trucking companies can track and manage, via telematics, thousands of trucks, trailers and their cargo all across the country in real-time.  As automation increases due to advances in sensors, bandwidth, artificial intelligence, algorithms and machine learning - precision becomes not only possible, but also all-important.

The “fog of war” describes a chaotic and competitive environment filled with unknowns, uncertainty and imprecise data.  In a not so distant past, military leaders suffering in the "fog of war," desperately sought answers to four key questions:

  1. Where are my enemies?
  2. Where are my friends?
  3. Where are my forces?
  4. What are their strengths?

These unknowns and uncertainties impacted the strategies and tactics military leaders employed. Their focus, and many of their resources, were dedicated to defending against the unknown.  Today mobile apps, sensors and analytics are reducing the “fog of war” in many industries and markets by making more of it “known.”  How then is the revolution in precision transforming businesses and strategies today?

Many companies have not evolved from antiquated business models based on the “unknown and imprecise”, and continue to throw good money after bad by following "estimate-based" models. Sears’ reported this quarter that their sales decreased, and on-hand inventories increased.  These numbers seem to reflect an estimate-based model lacking precise market knowledge.

Many companies continue to follow old school estimate-based models and business case studies that don’t incorporate the availability of massive quantities of real-time data available today.  They have yet to change their strategies and tactics to support the new precision models.

The retailer Macy’s, is also facing a challenging quarter. In response they announced a new business strategy focusing on individual customers and personalizing their experiences (read more on personalization in Cutting Through Chaos in the Age of Mobile Me).  In the past Macy’s focused on selecting inventory and marketing to “regions,” not “individuals." Macy’s regional approach highlights the challenge many companies face exploiting precision data. Edward Deming, the father of quality improvement, once said, “The big problems are where people don't realize they have one in the first place.”  But in this case it seems Macy’s recognized the problem.

Mass marketing to regions is the antithesis of precision.  It is an “estimate-based” strategy formulated in a time when there was inprecise data.  It is not a strategy for today.

Ignoring today’s “revolution in precision” is like a manufacturer ignoring the “continuous quality improvement” (CQI) movement over the past 60 years. CQI is the process-based, data-driven approach to improving the quality of a product or service. It operates under the premise there is always room for improving operations, processes, and activities to increase quality. CQI teaches the importance of measuring everything and working with precise data to document reality and to recognize progress. The American automobile industry tried ignoring CQI for many years and suffered the consequences, while the Japanese auto industry excelled at quality. In another classic quote from Edward Deming, he said, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” Taking advantage of precision is a must if surviving is in your plan.

The revolution in precision we are experiencing today is the result of our ability to precisely measure, in real-time, all kinds of new things that impact our business as a result of the Internet, mobile devices and connected sensors. These developments make precise data available from all corners of the globe in real-time. Precise data today makes traditional estimate-based business models, strategies and tactics obsolete.

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Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Center for the Future of Work, Cognizant Writer, Speaker and World Traveler
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Competing in Digital Transformation and Mobility

The C suite must understand the battle they are fighting before they can develop and implement a winning digital transformation strategy.  The commercial battlefield is data, and the effectiveness and speed of competitors’ information logistics systems will make all the difference.  The C suite’s overall doctrine must be achieving information dominance in their target markets.  
  1. Collecting data
  2. Transmitting data
  3. Securing data
  4. Normalizing data
  5. Storing data
  6. Analyzing and reporting on the data
  7. Understanding the meaning and impact of the data
  8. Driving decisions based on the meaning of the data
  9. Acting on the data (manual or automated) to achieve competitive advantages
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Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Analyst and World Traveler
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Subscribe to Kevin'sYouTube Channel
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Digital Transformation and Mobility - Macro-Forces and Timing

Economies are changing.  Industries are changing. Markets are changing. Consumers are changing and shopping differently. As competitive advantages evolve into market standards, areas of competition move. Today we see fields of competition move to data utilization and digital transformation initiatives. When considering how your company needs to digitally transform, there are three very important questions to ask:

  • How am I defining digital transformation?
  • What is motivating me to digitally transform?
  • Why should I digitally transform now?

As a definition for digital transformation I use - rethinking, redesigning and restructuring technology and business models to more quickly and effectively respond to and engage employees, partners and customers in digital environments.

To answer the questions about motivation, I propose there are eight key forces at work today that are motivating digital transformation:

  1. Real-time mobile apps and data
  2. Real-time sensor data (IoT)
  3. Real-time analytics
  4. Real-time situational awareness
  5. Real-time business operational tempos
  6. Real-time intelligent process automation  
  7. Real-time contextual understanding
  8. Real-time personalization of user experiences

There is an obvious theme here, “real-time.”  Real-time, as a mainstream requirement, first gained importance with the advent of the Internet and e-commerce, and then exponentially increased in importance when mobile devices connected to the Internet.  Today mobile commerce represents 34% of the global e-commerce market, but by 2018 it is expected to represent 47% and these consumers are impatient.  These consumers are mobile, and the context of their mobile searches and app usage changes second by second as they move throughout their day.  Real-time context is key to a successful user experience in this environment, and businesses with consumer facing mobile apps need to be moving toward real-time now.  That is not easy.

As competition increases and the sophistication of mobile apps grow, so also does consumer expectations.  Today mobile apps needed to be personalized in real-time, contextually relevant, and mobile payments and wallets supported.  These requirements break IT. Traditional IT environments are not meant for such speeds.  Business processes are not designed for real-time operational tempos.  Humans are not capable of scaling up to process, analyze and understand millions of data transactions daily.

As businesses recognize “real-time” requirements are not going away, and that “real-time” is mandatory to compete, they must take inventory of their existing IT environments and take the necessary steps to digitally transform.

Today’s competition takes place around data and speed.  The winners of a digital tomorrow will invest in five key areas:

  1. becoming a data-driven business
  2. improving the quality and speed of their information logistics systems
  3. achieving real-time operational tempos
  4. redesigning and rearchitecting for business agility
  5. utilizing real-time contextually relevant data to personalize digital user experiences

Businesses must recognize the demand for real-time operational tempos is only going to increase and this requires strategy, action and a budget.

Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
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Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Analyst and World Traveler
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Subscribe to Kevin'sYouTube Channel
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.