As the future comes at us faster than ever, businesses must have the agility and speed to profit from innovation.
It is barely conceivable that some 10 years ago the thought of being “online” using mobile phones was anything but an interesting idea. Once it became a reality it was really only an expensive privilege for a limited number of people. Then, in 2007, Apple released the first generation iPhone and brought mobile internet access and accessibility to the masses. The introduction of the web-enabled device marked a radical paradigm change in the mobile technology industry. Suddenly, enterprises had to adapt their business strategies to new customer demands based on customized mobile services.
Today, working and living without the advantages of mobile applications is unimaginable for most of us. The most important drivers of this development are innovative technologies resulting in new levels of business speed. But how do we define speed? Put simply, speed is a relative concept. Whenever the word “speed” is used, however, the perception is that things are going faster than expected, faster than we previously experienced.
This is exactly what digital business is all about: Things are going faster, much faster, in real time. We can connect more people faster than ever through mobile devices and social collaboration platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and similar technologies. We can expect results faster than ever before because processes can be automated — they are no longer dependent on human interaction. We fix systems faster because we know that something went wrong, or even predict that something might go wrong, and automate the necessary countermeasures. Through the Internet of Things, or Industry 4.0 technology, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of sensors are now proactively telling us that something is about to go wrong and alerting us to do something about it.
Coming back to our example, Apple has not only redefined speed for mobile technology but also for global supply chains when it launched the 3G version of the iPhone in 22 countries in 2008. Over the next few months, Apple introduced the iPhone in more than 50 additional countries. Among the carriers with which Apple coordinated the rollout were VimpelCom in Russia, three companies in Hong Kong, Etisalat in Dubai, and Telia in Sweden — not exactly the household names Apple was used to dealing with. The coordination took place across the physical supply chain, with the goal of ensuring that the 7 million phones sold in the first quarter were available not only in local stores but also across the digital supply chain, because many customers purchased their phones from home via the Apple website or other online stores.
Dynamic supply chains such as this are gradually appearing in other industries. Going further, even when supply chains slow down, the need for information does not. As an example, the ocean freight business has been struggling for several years due to weak demand and increasing fuel prices. One strategy to cope with this issue was the implementation of “slow steaming” — in essence, running ships considerably below their maximum speeds to save on fuel. However, seaports have fix and variable costs, which require them to optimize the use of their berths and facilities.
The challenge is to coordinate these needs with the ‘slow steaming’ policies. To meet this challenge, Royal Dirkzwager — a maritime information and nautical service provider based in The Netherlands — has developed the Automated Identification System (AIS). AIS continuously analyzes real-time signals from a variety of sources, such as from a ship’s onboard systems, that provide information such as location, speed, and direction. These updates allow a port, for example, to re-plan its activities, such as putting another ship into a berth in place of a delayed vessel.
The future is coming faster in most industries. However, a Digital Enterprise thrives on speed — in product release cycles, in the velocity of supply chains, more or less in all operational areas. The primary need to become an agile and competitive digital organization requires understanding the new world order - where cloud, social media, mobile technologies, the Internet of Things, and the power of the customers with real time interactions are the major forces.
Digital transformation introduces an entirely fresh way to interact with customers; it brings them on innovative digital journeys, promotes unique value propositions, and enables companies to go to market in diverse and exciting ways, fast
To harness the power of digital transformation, Software AG pioneered the development of the world’s first Digital Business Platform enabling seamless connectivity between systems, processes, customers and suppliers in order to optimize efficiency, agility and business automation.
As the future comes at us faster than ever, it is critical that companies now think not just in terms of the concept of digital transformation, but also in the systems they will need to satisfy their new-found need for greater agility and speed in order to profit from innovation.