The new world of digital business

Senior Product Marketing Manager, IBM

In my earlier blog, I gave my view of what it might mean to become a digital business: the idea of intertwined interdependencies between humankind and technology and the lines between the physical and digital worlds continuing to blur, as well as the huge proliferation of information that organizations will have to manage and analyze. 

But I asked myself what the world might look like once the digital business concept had achieved broad adoption. It’s certainly going to get closer to providing instant gratification, lowering risk and reducing costs based on chosen quality, availability and convenience—all centered on personal and behavioral profiles, abilities, needs and wants. We’re heading toward total information awareness whether you are the consumer or the producer.

Let me try to explain with some examples. a consumer, imagine walking through a shopping mall and advertisements adapt in real time, using retina recognition to correctly identify you and personalize to your predicted desires. You enter the store and are guided to the area where your goods are on display with recommended accessories on special offer. You decide to purchase them, no credit cards needed; you just confirm yes with your fingerprint, the amount is transacted in your bank account and your purchases are delivered before you get home. Or as you shop online, your merchandise is produced through your in-home mini-manufacturing device (think of 3-D printing on steroids). No delivery charges, no waiting times.

If you're an athlete, wearable sensors and real-time, ongoing chemical analysis of your body prescribes the exact workout and food plan you need to be in the best-possible physical and mental form for a scheduled event in six weeks. The “system” makes sure you have the correct diet and equipment. If necessary, it has pre-ordered food and supplements, and advised which locations have workout equipment available if it's not already installed in your home or regular training facility. 

For businesses, you gain immediate insight into every customer, and a record of every interaction with each device a person has touched, along with the individual's emotional state, sentiment and satisfaction levels. This involves a calculated propensity to buy, plus recommended and prioritized lists for that individual’s “next best actions.” Real-time restocking and manufacturing requests seamlessly integrate with the organization’s goals. Business becomes predictive, and new business models are created daily to address opportunities that may last only seconds. The company almost becomes organic, with an enterprise nervous system that feels, senses, detects, understands and adapts to local as well as worldwide events—minimizing risks and costs while maximizing opportunities for growth.

Government agencies interact with each other by predicting and acting on what is best for the citizens, towns, cities and states using the ability to deliver services on demand to meet their civic obligations—again, in real time. They also acquire capabilities for detecting and preventing social unrest, along with compiling threat profiles on individuals.

Healthcare is built around autonomics and instantaneous continual screening through wearable sensors and chemical analysis of the body and mind. Medications are released accurately and on time, preventing confusion about which drugs to take, when to take them, while the exact amounts are released into the body through wearable accessories. Our bodies might be enhanced with embedded devices that identify and avoid mild-to-serious illnesses and help us live longer, more active lives by taking corrective and preventative actions.

You’re probably worried by now—but don’t be. Most of us want to enjoy what little free time we have without having to wait for goods to be delivered, waste hours at airports when we travel or constantly monitor our health. The scenario described above is already on its way and it can’t be stopped. Although there will be challenges and heated debate between business, science, ethics and religion along the journey, it will happen.

Previously, I asked readers to think about what kind of infrastructure an organization would need in order to support the digital business in full motion. It would have to be real-time, secure, always-on, unaffected by the unexpected, accurate, autonomic and unceasing—almost organic as described above.

In the world of the digital business everything (devices and resources) and everybody is integrated. Systems are intelligent, dynamic, adaptive, secure, self-configuring, self-aware, self-discovering and self-healing. This applies to everything from data stores and data warehouses through analytics, models, algorithms, process and applications.

While all this may sound like science-fiction, the IBM z Systems and the z Analytics platforms probably bring you closer to realizing the digital business than any other platform. I describe this in greater detail in the on demand webcast, “Becoming an Enterprise Digital business - A perspective from featured Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg.” So please join us as I reflect more on the digital business and how IBM can help you get there.

We are also organizing a CrowdChat on July 14 at 11:00 a.m. ET on the topic "Digital Business Journey" and we would be delighted to have you join us.