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The rise of digital biz and the death of everything else
Digital business is now so ubiquitous that it is almost banal. We live in a digital world, and all companies need to think about how to incorporate digital into everything they do.
The rise of digital business has been accelerated by the convergence of several technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, mobile apps and social media. All of these have combined to fundamentally change the way businesses operate. And while most businesses will continue to operate primarily in the conventional brick-and-mortar world for some time to come, the increasing digitization of our lives means that companies must consider its implications sooner rather than later.
The digital business platform
Every company is now a digital business. If you want to survive and thrive, you must be a digital business. The key to this is the development of a platform for the business. It could be an e-commerce platform that allows direct sales to customers online. Or it could be a digital channel to partner with distributors or agents. There could be a mobile app for customers to use. The important thing is that the company has a clear idea of what its platform looks like. This will help it decide what needs to be done to support the transition to digital. It will also help the company identify partners to help develop, operate and maintain the digital platform.
Digitally integrated supply chains.
Many companies have traditionally operated with a linear supply chain, where elements such as procurement, manufacturing and distribution are tightly controlled. Digital technology means that these supply chains can now be much more integrated. The supply chain can be digitized or broken down into discrete segments. Each segment could be managed by a different company or group of companies. And each segment could be identified and monitored by sensors. This ability to create digitally integrated supply chains can help companies in several ways. The most important is the ability to improve forecasting and inventory management. Data flowing through the supply chain enables forecasting to be more accurate and retailers to respond more quickly to changes in demand patterns.
Digital sales and service channels.
Many companies have always offered sales and service through a physical service channel, such as a retail store or call center. The rise of digital businesses means they can also offer those services through digital channels, such as ecommerce and mobile apps. This can be as simple as allowing customers to book appointments for repair services through a mobile app. It could be selling products through ecommerce channels. Or it could mean offering 24/7 online help and support, followed by corresponding repair services. These digital channels are largely complementary to physical sales and service channels. But they have the potential to offer many advantages over their physical counterparts. Digital channels can operate anywhere in the world. They can be easily accessed from anywhere in the world, even outside of business hours. And they can be tailored to the needs of specific customer segments.
Machine learning and AI-driven processes.
Business processes are nothing more than sequences of steps. They are often automated by computer systems that use software to sequence the process steps. Machine learning is a form of AI that enables computer systems to learn. For example, an intelligent computer system in charge of managing service contracts could analyze past experiences and identify patterns in customers' use of services. It could then learn to sequence its own actions in the best possible way. This type of AI system can not only learn to automate existing processes. It can also be programmed to create new processes. This allows companies to leverage machine learning as a source of innovation. They can use it to create new business processes that they could not have foreseen when they designed their original computer systems.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the growing interconnection of devices that collect useful data about their environment. These sensors can measure everything from weather conditions to the performance of machine parts in factories. They can even monitor customer behavior in stores. In the past, these devices were mainly limited to a single company or industry. But the rise of the Internet of Things means that these devices are now connected to each other. This enables them to exchange data and thus create added value for their owners. The Internet of Things is now common in a number of industries, such as transportation and logistics, retail and energy. And it is about to become even more important, as companies look to create new digital services based on IoT data.
Digital business is not a fad. It is here to stay. More and more businesses will be driven by digital platforms. They will rely on data, AI and sensors to create new services, reduce costs and engage customers in new ways. They will leverage machine learning to create new business processes that were not possible before. Digital transformation is now in full swing. All companies will be affected by it in one way or another. And many will have no choice but to transform digitally if they want to survive and thrive in the future.
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