"The size of competitors and the longevity of their brands, are less predictive of future success than the importance they give to data, the speed in which they act upon the data, and their operational tempo."In 2013 the volume of data created, captured, copied and consumed worldwide totaled approximately 9 zetabytes. This year the total will be 79 zetabytes. By 2025 there is projected to be 181 zetabytes of data. Inside these fast growing masses of data are the answers all businesses need to succeed. The data tells them what their customers want. It tells them the prices customers are willing to pay. It tells them when the products are most in demand. This data, however, has a shelf life that rapidly diminishes over time just as consumers change their preferences with the changing seasons. It is up to every business to be able to exploit the data fast enough to be meaningful.
In an always-connected world where consumers and their needs are transient, timing is everything. In order to capture competitive advantages and contextual relevance before the shelf life of the data expires, enterprises must deploy optimized information logistics systems (OILS) and lean on AI to help analyze and process fast enough to deliver value.
In digital interactions with customers today, they expect instant access to information. IT infrastructures must be able to support these real-time interactions, and this need requires we solicit the help of AI and our robot friends. It also takes rethinking business models, organizational structures, decision-making and business processes. It requires new ways of operating, employee training, and often automation and our own robot Fridays.
In Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel, Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe rescues a native from cannibals and names him Friday after the day in which they met. The native stays with him and ultimately becomes a highly valuable companion to Crusoe. If not already, we will soon all need robot Fridays (aka automation) to help process data and information fast enough to support these real-time interactions. The following list is what digital winners invest in:
- Optimizing their information logistics systems
- Implementing effective sense and respond systems (IoT, IIoT, automated data collection systems, sensors, customer experience monitoring etc.)
- Utilizing automation to gain speed, predictability and quality
- Achieving real-time and future time business operational tempos
- Increasing cultural agility
- Using contextual relevance to personalize digital user interactions and experiences in real time
- IT systems
- Business processes
- Business alignment/transformation
- Customer alignment
- Cultural alignment
Humans are biological entities that operate at a pace governed by our biology, the sun, moon, and the physical requirements that keep our carbon-based bodies alive. These requirements and mental limitations make scaling human productivity beyond the limits of the Circadian Rhythm impossible without augmentation. Augmentation takes the form of a robot Friday - automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and algorithms. Robot Fridays have the advantage of being able to work 24x7x365, and don’t as yet ask for holidays and sick days.
Once the business is running in digital time, the challenge becomes business agility. Agility is the speed at which a business can recognize, analyze, react and profit from rapidly changing market conditions. Businesses that can accurately understand customer demand, and the strategies of their competition, and then respond faster will soon dominate those, which are slower. The military strategist John Boyd called these competitive advantages, “getting inside of your competitor’s decision and response curves.” This means your actions and responses are occurring at a pace that surpasses your competitions’ ability to understand and react.
To succeed today leaders must have a business capable of competing. They must develop a company culture where change is viewed as an opportunity. They must transform their businesses to operate at real-time tempos and move beyond “human-time” limitations to algorithm and automation supported “digital-time.” They must understand that rapidly changing consumer behaviors mandate companies operate in a more agile manner capable of rapid responses to new opportunities and competitive threats.
Partner | Futurist at TCS
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.