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In the not-so-distant past, the lines between the physical world and the digital world were clearly marked. IT was only responsible for websites and supporting the computers on-site while other departments handled the physical world. The digital revolution, however, has blurred the lines between the physical and the digital domains as well as the lines of responsibility.

A digital business does not exist in a virtual world. Its production, shipping, and field services are much more physical, but they are also firmly entrenched in digital technology. The lines are being further blurred by the expansion of the Internet of Things with everything from home appliances to cars, which now have the potential to be connected.

Accenture has recognized the changes in how companies conduct business and identified five important trends. These trends are expected to be crucial aspects involved in driving the new interconnected model.

1. The Age of “Me”

Customers want personalized attention. As far as many are concerned, no order, problem, or question is more important than their own. Some of them seem to expect you to read their minds and predict what they might need even before they recognize the need.

Giving customers a personalized experience requires delving deeper into their lives than ever before. Forward-thinking companies are changing the devices that they use to interact with customers. Some are using smart TVs, wearable tech, connected cars, and other previously unconnected objects to deliver a more personalized customer experience as well as concepts such as augmented reality.

2. Intelligent Hardware

Surveys have revealed that customers want meaningful outcomes, not necessarily a greater range of services or product. They want their purchase journeys to be engaging, and seamlessly integrated to allow them to achieve their goals in the easiest way possible. They want to be able to find and access the information they are seeking without navigating through a series of menus. Savvy marketers are no longer trying to sell results—they sell outcomes.

Borrowing a page from the Industrial Internet of Things, companies have added new tools to their digital workshop. Embedded sensors and connected hardware give companies new opportunities to personalize their customer interactions through these types of intelligent hardware. Businesses can gain a better understanding of how customers are actually using their products to enhance outcomes for current and future customers.

3. Competition in Platform Ecosystems

Digital ecosystems, such as platforms, are increasingly capturing more opportunities for both profitability and growth. Respondents to a recent survey revealed that approximately 75 percent feel that it will be industry leaders and major players who will be the leaders for the next generation of platforms, rather than the major technology corporations who have historically delivered innovations. A nearly identical percentage is already experimenting or using industry platforms for integrating data with digital partners.

Cloud computing and mobile technology has helped level the playing field. Small businesses and startups have better opportunities to compete with entrenched major corporations with the costly barriers removed. Thus, platform-based ecosystems have become the most recent competitive plane.

4. Big Data will Become Increasingly Important

Advances in technology, such as faster processors and cognitive software, have made it possible for companies to compile massive databases and use the information in meaningful ways. Tools and applications will function more like the human brain to guide users and supply the right information at the right time. Software that can “learn” from experience and adapt to changes is believed to be possible before too many years pass.

5. Machines and Humans will collaborate in New Ways

Digitization is driving the need to find new ways for machines and humans to work together to accomplish more. Businesses are finding ways for users to handle tasks themselves that once required assistance from IT. Natural user interfaces are becoming increasingly popular. Wearable tech is providing users with a number of new ways to connect to other objects and devices. Enterprise success may well be based on how effectively the company can manage both their intelligent machines and their human talent.

In conclusion, digitization does not mean that the physical world is less important. In fact, it is the combination of the digital and the physical that is going to drive success in the future.

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