Digital disruption is completely changing the way businesses operate and how they interact with their customers. While those that adapt to the changing landscape will gain a competitive advantage, those that hesitate will be left behind. Intel refers to this dramatic transition as the Vortex of Change. The UK’s manufacturing sector alone could unlock a massive £455bn over the next decade if it prepares adequately for the fourth industrial revolution, according to a recent report1, offering a glimpse of what is possible if companies have a rigorous plan for the digital era.
“We are experiencing a period of unprecedented technological change – and there’s much more to come,” says Jim Henrys, Director of Business Solutions at Intel. “Innovation in the digital era we are in is completely reshaping the world of business and at Intel we are seeking to offer next-generation support to companies to help them develop a hyper-agile work style, focus resources on innovation, re-evaluate their business models and embrace the world of corporate social re-sponsibility (CSR).
“In our view, there are eight key ‘innovation accelerants’ that will turbo-charge this digital trans-formation and it’s vital for forward-thinking companies to use these as core ingredients to create and deploy disruptive new business models (at velocity) as they reimagine their business strate-gies and create a digital culture from the top of the organisation down. Only the companies that formulate and start executing a clear strategy or Digital Business Vision and role model a genuine desire for transformation will be in a position to maximise the potential of the Vortex of Change”.
“In our view, there are eight key ‘innovation accelerants’ that will turbo-charge this digital transformation and it’s vital for forward-thinking companies to use these as core ingredients to create and deploy disruptive new business models (at velocity) as they reimagine their business strategies and create a digital culture from the top of the organisation down”
The eight “innovation accelerants” are as follows:
Not only does the cloud enable services that we know and love, such as Netflix* and Spotify*, it also forms the backbone of modern IT infrastructure. Cloud computing enables firms to bring new and innovative business models to market more quickly than ever before. While the move away from hardware-based networks towards software-defined infrastructure such as hybrid cloud networks enables flexibility, it also helps to improve productivity and in turn boosts efficiency and profits. What’s more, the scalability that cloud services offer helps companies to grow their business effectively.
As one of the key drivers of the Vortex of Change, 5G is set to cause unprecedented levels of disruption. As a major step-up from 4G, 5G networks will bring high speeds, low latency and high capacity like nothing we’ve seen before. The enormous boost in performance will provide support for next-generation innovations such as autonomous cars, along with a wide range of IoT technology. Not only will this improve the usability of smart home devices and services, but 5G-driven smart systems will also boost operations across a number of sectors including healthcare, agriculture and entertainment.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are set to be truly transformational technologies, enabling businesses to spot trends among massive datasets. AI learns as it goes along, continually improving systems as its goes, enabling businesses to stay as agile as possible. What’s more, AI is re-writing the way we interact with machines and enabling more personalised interfaces. AI should be considered a key element of any future digital strategy.
4. Data analytics
Data is one of the most important assets that any business holds, but legacy infrastructure can thwart its usefulness. When its true potential is unlocked, ‘big data’ can help companies to offer better services, improve customer experience, and ultimately boost profits. Every forward-thinking business should make use of the ever-expanding range of metrics on offer and devise a data analytics strategy in order to drive essential insight for the future. This includes cultivating the relevant skills among employees to deal with the data and cultivating a data-driven culture and an able, agile workforce.
The network of interconnected devices known as the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming an integral part of the digital landscape. Not only will the increasing number of connected products and services ensure the rise of smart home devices for consumers, it will also transform a number of industries. IoT technology has already been deployed in a number of settings, including real-time inventory and customer flow data in the retail sector and remote healthcare monitoring. Progressive companies should be looking into forming useful partnerships with IoT technology firms to complement and maybe even redefine their existing business.
The manufacturing sector is set to be transformed by a range of smart technologies, including robots. But far from taking over jobs, robots are set to free up more time for humans to carry out more interesting tasks. By their very nature, robots are suited to repetitive and strenuous jobs, making them ideal for the factory floor. What we’re already seeing is mixed production environments featuring both human workers and collaborative robots (cobots). In this type of environment, analytics can be used to determine modifications to machines or their position on the factory floor to ensure the most efficient work flow.
While Virtual Reality (VR) certainly has its uses, it is Augmented Reality (AR) that may ultimately prove more commercially significant. AR involves superimposing computer graphics over a real-world view and can be viewed either on a headset or on a mobile device. It’s ideal for boosting the customer experience, whether that’s enabling potential buyers to see what furniture would look like in their home, or allowing sports fans to apply virtual face paint with an AR camera filter on game day. Coming up on the rails is Mixed Reality, where AR meets VR. Whatever happens next, it’s going to be well worth watching.
8. Shared ledgers
In future, the banking sector, which has been relatively slow to update for the digital era, will benefit from shared ledgers like Blockchain*, which forms the backbone for cryptocurrency Bitcoin*. Shared ledgers are databases that keep track of ownership, providing a permanent record of transactions that can’t be tampered with, making them ideal for the financial world as well fraud detection and tax collection. As the ledger is validated by the network itself, it needs no centralised body to oversee it. The undisputed audit trail that shared ledgers offer makes them suited to a number of areas and it’s likely that they will be more widely used across different sectors in the near future.
To prepare for digital transformation, all businesses must develop a Digital Business Vision, where the customer comes first. In order to transform into a truly agile organisation, it’s important to completely re-evaluate existing business models while considering how emerging technologies will disrupt the current landscape and bring new opportunities. Re-evaluating the way that success is measured is also key. The Triple bottom line (TBL), which takes into account social and environmental impact as well as economic measures, is a vital consideration for businesses in the digital era. In conclusion, all businesses must question whether they are truly ready for digital transformation. If not, they are in danger of being consigned to the pages of history.
*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others