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The Digital Enterprise Revolution: Some Subtle Implications

Posted by Vince Cavasin at 11:51 PM

In my last post I presented our Digital Revolution infographic. As I was pondering some of the data points it covers, I got to thinking about their implications for the fields of marketing and commerce, and their enabling technologies. Most of the obvious implications have been written about at length elsewhere, but today I'd like to take a look at some of the not-so-obvious ones:

  • New mobile customers: Everyone talks about the mobile web surpassing the fixed web, but it pays to look at the customers who are driving this. According to the International Telecommunications Union, this year mobile broadband subscriptions in developing countries surpassed subscriptions in developed countries. Beyond that, there's lots more headroom for growth and the mobile web is cheaper and easier to access than the fixed web in the developing world. The implication? While it's critical for global brands to have a mobile strategy, it's equally critical that that strategy comprehend the huge opportunity web-enabled phones are bringing to developing countries, and the challenges that accompany that opportunity: supporting price points that are affordable to these new customers, processing their payments, even the packaging and supply chain strategies required to ensure they get the right product at the right place and time.
  • The true power (consumption) of the cloud: We have good reason to have our heads in the cloud -- by virtualizing our infrastructure and hiring specialist providers to manage it we will reap enormous economies of scale, lower costs, and realize better scalability versus the old model of owned, physical infrastructure. On the downside, however, the geographic consolidation of physical infrastructure that comes with the shift to the cloud also implies more concentrated areas of increased power consumption. Luckily companies like Calxeda are beginning to address the power consumption challenge via innovative ultra-low-power servers. This may seem more like an issue for the CIO than the CMO, but CMOs who want to cultivate an earth-friendly image may want to make sure their CIOs are aligned to the marketing value of energy efficient compute cycles.
  • The Big in Big Data: Big Data holds enormous promise for marketers (and just about everyone else), but we have to put it someplace, and today that means hard drives. Lots of them. But unfortunately our storage needs are increasing much faster than the capacities of our devices. According to Forbes, by 2020 our data storage needs will increase 50 fold while hard drive capacity will only increase 15 fold. While we can place our bets on emerging storage technologies like bacteria, holograms, and diamonds, the reality is we will probably be stuck with hard drives -- and their significant space and power requirements -- well into the zettabyte era. For anyone trying to understand this data (e.g. marketers), the implication is that we will have to get much smarter about what data to collect. The seemingly cheap, limitless storage we took for granted until now will, over the next few years, become much more precious, driving up demand for data scientists who can optimize data collection schemes to exclude superfluous bits (pun intended), thereby making the most out of our old-fashioned storage devices until those hologram, diamond, and bacteria drives are online.
  • Cross-channel table stakes: Nearly everyone who can shop in the US is now shopping online, and while just about every major US retailer is there to sell to them, there are plenty of leading retailers and brands that still aren't taking any form of cross-channel seriously. With traditionally online-only retailers like Amazon and eBay (and non-retailers like google) quickly moving to provide same-day delivery, ignoring cross-channel is suicide. Single channel retailers who don't quickly take the big leap into cross-channel (or better yet, omni-channel) will have to be satisfied with becoming niche players -- or worse, showrooms for competitors.

How are these digital trends affecting your business? What other trends are you seeing that have not-so-obvious implications? Go ahead--hit "reply" and let's discuss!

Comments

I totally agree with the claim about everyone going mobile. It's crazy how many people have cell phones these days. Yeah, people may use the computer for work, but they use their ipods and iphones for leisure!That is where we need to hit people the hardest.

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