As in previous industrial revolutions, the arrival of shared infrastructure - in the case of our 'Fourth Revolution', the Internet - changes everything. The evidence is everywhere: peer-to-peer lending, Spotify, eBay, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Rightmove, Uber, and Amazon. All of these business models succeed by brokering direct new relationships between people, services and things - and learn as they go by harvesting data. Importantly, all have been vigorously resisted by incumbents!
So how are successful organisations changing their operating models - "moving from pipes to platforms" in response to the shared informational infrastructure of the Internet? Companies around the world are plugging in, and reconfiguring their operations around data, underpinned with modular, digitised business "capabilities". These essential building blocks of business - which include accountancy, logistics and payments - are delivered with the help of a vast market of affordable, easy-to-deploy, and flexible digital services, delivered out of the Cloud. For example, data storage (think Dropbox, AWS), payment platforms (PayPal, Google Wallet), and customer relationship management tools (Salesforce, Dynamics) can all be plugged into a business within hours, and shared seamlessly on any device.
Looking at these examples of digital businesses, we can quickly see that all share common features. They are brokers, not providers; disintermediators, disaggregators, and disruptors; horizontally, not vertically organised, and movers from "push" to "pull." They're "of the net, not on the net" - meaning they didn't try to bolt shiny tech on to old, incumbent business models. Much as Netflix replaced Blockbuster in home videos, digital businesses are founded on the basic understanding that the analogue way of doing things has had its day.
Increasingly, this also includes the traditional "sign on the door" sales technique: supermarkets are discovering that their core capabilities as supply chain integrators allows them to broker all manner of transactions well outside fruit and vegetables; banks are discovering that their transaction processing capabilities open untold doors to other markets well outside traditional financial services. These shifts are perhaps more about digital reimagination than digital transformation.
Time, then, for a working definition: "digital is a participatory layer of web-based media that allows users to self-select their own experiences, and affords the organisation the ability to bridge media, gain feedback, iterate their service, and build and activate relationships". This definition illustrates that digital transformation requires significant culture change, as well as new talent: it is as much about relationship and service management as about technology.
This event will explore these themes, hearing from experienced keynote speakers as well as panels of experts discussing changes in business models, culture, and skills - and, course, the technology that underpins these.