If you talk to IT professionals who have been in the industry since the 1980s about the “bad old days,” you will probably hear a number of unsettling tales. They will tell about the enthusiasm with which they greeted their first 56k modem or how they had to send bundles of floppy disks to corporate headquarters on a daily basis. They might mention that their first PC had no fixed hard drive and a monochrome monitor. Perhaps they will tell you about the company’s first computer system and how employees had two monitors on their desks — one being a terminal to connect to the server and the other connected to a PC (which was not connected to anything else except a dot-matrix printer). As for email — well, they would have had little concept of what the term meant.
Game Changer: Internet
Fast forward just a few years. The Internet is becoming more affordable, and consumers are beginning to embrace it as a novelty although many people have trouble imagining what they might possibly use it for. Some companies, however, immediately saw the “writing on the wall” and launched websites to advertise their products and services. Most of these were relatively simple; if a customer wanted to place an order, they had to call the business or print out a form and fax or mail it to the company.
Move the time clock forward a few more years and you will find online shopping carts, secure payment methods, instant messaging, live chat and online retailers with massive websites. Go a little further in time and you could witness the birth of true high-speed Internet access, social media sites and a world in which virtually every enterprise had a web presence.
Game Changer: Digital Revolution
The digital revolution was a more gradual process than some people realize. It was not instantaneous, nor did it all happen in a single year. Instead, it was a series of game-changing innovations that built on what had gone before — and the revolution has never ended.
Game Changers: Mobile Devices and the Cloud
Today, we have cloud computing, responsive web design, software-as-a-service, mobile apps, nearshoring and data-as-a-service. We use smartphones, phablets, laptops and tablets to access the cloud, reach customers, collaborate with colleagues, conduct research or book our next vacation. We have expanded our vocabulary of acronyms to include ERP, CRM, PaaS and CMS. We have learned the challenges of real-time data aggregation, been horrified at news of significant data breaches and become increasingly dependent on GPS to find our way from Point A to Point B.
Game Changer: Digital Enterprises
In short, we live in the digital age. Companies and organizations who choose to leverage all the tools offered by modern technology have begun referring to themselves as digital enterprises. However, being a digital enterprise is not a one-time conversion — it is an ongoing process that requires continuous adaptation to new technology. We therefore would like to offer our suggestions for the top New Year’s resolutions that every digital enterprise should make for 2015.
- We will commit to being a digital enterprise. Too often, enterprises try to retain too much from their past lives. They bury their employees in printed material that could easily be stored online, or they fail to mobilize their websites. Successful digital enterprises rethink every aspect of their operations and digitize every possible part.
- We will remember our customers. A major motivation for becoming a digital enterprise is the ability to enhance the customer’s experience. Too often, companies become more focused on the process of digitization than the results needed.
- We will remember that designing a responsive website requires a different approach. We will not have a single site that is just scaled for different screen sizes. Therefore, we will examine every element as if it were to be entered in a “best of” design competition. We will test our sites to ensure that users have a cohesive experience, regardless of device.
- We will establish a plan for keeping our data clean. A one-time scrub is not enough. There must be an ongoing effort to clean up data and verify its integrity. It may also require addressing the issue of dirty data at the source.
- We will never assume that our conversion to a digital enterprise is complete. Technology is progressing rapidly, and the best solution today may not be the best option next year. Being a digital enterprise requires keeping an open mind and a willingness to embrace new products or methods if there is an advantage to be gained.
If compared to a human lifespan, you could say that digital enterprises are in their teens. They are not yet fully mature, but it is not too farfetched to say that digital enterprises are poised for an explosive growth in the coming years.