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February 16, 2015

Digital Infrastructure Is The Next Frontier

Posted by Thothathri Visvanathan (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:50 AM

Let's face it: Digital needs are changing. That's why it's imperative for enterprises to adopt new tools and technologies. Did you know, for example, that by next year some 3 billion consumers, or 45 percent of the world's population, will be using the Internet? It's a staggering number. Smart organizations need to be focused on the power of social media as well as the possibilities that come with ultra-connectivity: the Internet of Things.

To best anticipate and leverage these rapid-fire changes, an organization needs to recognize that there's a paradigm shift occurring in the global marketplace. That means redefining the digital needs of present-day consumers. Doing so will take the right infrastructure and the right software. Internet traffic volumes are estimated to reach 1 zettabyte (yes, zettabyte!) by later this year. Digital consumers are already making 500 million tweets a day, and there exists 1.2 billion monthly active Facebook users. Ask yourself: Is your organization's digital infrastructure and software up to the task of meeting this growing consumer demand?

To make matters even more interesting, consumers don't remain in one place for long. In 2005, for example, there were 167 million fixed Internet connections. By next year, there will be 573 million fixed connections and 2.134 billion mobile connections. What accounts for the lion's share of this meteoric rise? The emerging markets. The West (the countries of the G-20) claimed about a half-billion Internet users in 2005, compared to 238 million Internet users in the developing countries. By later this year, the G-20 countries, which are fairly stagnant as measured by population growth, will have 672 million Internet users. Compare that to the 1.39 billion Internet users in the emerging markets. Then consider the continued population growth of those markets, and it goes a long way in explaining the paradigm shift we are seeing at the moment.

These statistics underscore an even more profound opportunity for enterprises. Not only are there more Internet users. They are more connected to each other than ever before. So the power of digital tools has increased exponentially. I recommend that every consumer-focused organization recognize that digital socializing pays off with new revenue streams. An enterprise should be using customer care to encourage new sales, and social media campaigns can result in peer recommendations and the co-creation of products.

Also invest in mobility. It's already a vital part of the cashless economy. We're seeing the savviest of retailers augment reality to create handheld virtual stores. Then there are non-traditional payment methods like NFC. Indeed, alternate currencies will redefine the global economy. Bitcoin was just the beginning (and an admirable effort, even if it doesn't succeed in the long run).

Changing digital needs shouldn't frighten enterprises into a state of paralysis. Those needs should rather be opportunities. Global corporations should feel liberated by the quest for better and more nimble digital tools. No matter the industry, digital opportunities are coming and it's your organization's responsibility to utilize them to their fullest. For example, instant insights via Big Data analytics lead to fraud detection and enhanced security. Such analytical power can also help with preventive healthcare and to detect and prevent machine breakdowns in manufacturing.

Something else to remember is that everything that is digital is now physical ... and vice versa. The blurring of distinction between online, mobile, and physical channels is resulting in omni-channel integration and an immersive and pervasive multi-channel experience.

So you might be asking yourself: What should organizations focus on when they address digital opportunities? They need to be leveraged from a multi-faceted perspective: your customers, the overall ecosystem, and everything in between, including the enterprise and connected devices. Organizations need to build their digital assets so that they receive information and analytics about customers, suppliers, and feedback loops for building a fully digital enterprise.

There's a flip side to this coin. Enterprises also need to control their digital liabilities. They should have IT systems, processes, and tools that limit certain external flexibilities and can also focus on competing in the new digital era. Make certain that your organization's structures and strategies that are suited for changes in this new business environment.

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