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December 4, 2014

Digital Ascendency Demonstrates Need For Right IT

Posted by Suryaprakash K. (View Profile | View All Posts) at 3:31 AM

What is Internet neutrality? [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2psly3euy78]

One of the recent gatherings of world leaders took place in Beijing at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Top on their agenda? Not run-away epidemics, military campaigns, or the global economy. First on the list was the Internet.

If you don't think digital platforms have matured to the point where they're pervasive and downright influential, then consider what world leaders are discussing. The APEC conference brought the issue of Internet neutrality front and center.

Suppose I pick up the telephone to call a plumber. But in the middle of the telephone call, a competing plumber is patched into the call and cuts off my original conversation. Then the new plumber offers me his services instead. Of course, your telephone company would never do such a thing. Yet the scenario I've just described is what could happen if the Internet is divided into fast lanes (enterprises that pay to be on them) and the rest of it (those that won't or can't pay). You can bet that the issue of 'Internet neutrality' will consume world leaders in the months and years to come.

The big picture here is - regardless of whether broadband companies get to set up various pay-to-pay lanes across the Internet - that having a mere digital presence doesn't cut it anymore. It's how effectively you leverage that presence that's meaningful. For example, I was fascinated that one of the biggest online shopping days of the year is now November 11. It's called 'Singles' Day' in China, when tens (and perhaps hundreds) of millions of single Chinese consumers go online and buy something for someone they are fond of.

The day has turned into a bonanza for e-commerce giants like Alibaba and its smaller rival, JD.com. China will soon be a larger e-commerce market than the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and France combined. Yet I keep reading reports about those e-commerce giants getting sub-par reviews from their consumers. Why? Well, the online shopping experience tends to be easy and efficient. It's getting the merchandise to the intended person on time and intact that's the issue.

Being a huge Internet retailer isn't cutting it anymore. E-commerce enterprises need to focus on the kind of Information Technology that can make their operations 'end-to-end.' That is, if their strategy is online-to-offline, like it tends to be in China, the Internet must be a means by which logistics can happen. Deliveries can be tracked. And customer service ensured.

Whether or not the Internet stays neutral is just one issue facing the digital world. It seems to me that even if enterprises can pay for presence in a so-called fast lane, then they need their IT platforms to keep their operations streamlined and worthy of that lane. It's like placing a old car on a Formula 1 track and expecting to take first place. In the digital world, the winners are those that innovate their way to the finish line.

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