Part 2: Digital Business: A conceptual overview.

Sensors and the Cloud:  A match made in digital heaven?


Sensors are already being utilized in a large capacity by companies in a variety of industries that recognize the amazing capabilities they provide.  But when sensors are integrated with the convenience of smartphones, the speed of the internet and the massive storage space of the cloud, a whole new world is suddenly made available to those able to visualize it.   A good way to look at sensors is to think of them as a replacement for a living, breathing test pilot.  Sensors are so advanced that when used correctly, even in extreme situations, they can convey most of the same information that the human body can with pinpoint accuracy, but without the risks.  And instead of relying on human feedback, sensors record and communicate data in real- time.  They can do everything from sensing vibrations and movement,  to keeping constant temperature readings, without the need for manual record keeping.  Any desired piece of information can be extracted and stored on the cloud according to the specifications maintained in the data model through integrated, real-time communication over the web.

To get an idea of how sensors are being used within the digital business model, look no further than Nest which was acquired by Google in January 2014.  Nest thermostat controls home temperatures digitally via sensors and transmits data collected by these sensors in real time via the cloud.  It then can share this data with energy companies who can predict future energy consumption, resulting in increased efficiency, thus passing savings onto the customer.  Not only does Nest digitize temperature control, it also has the capability to share its’ digital cloud platform with other devices and services. One such service is Jawbone, which specializes in wearable digital technology that contains sensors. These sensors can detect when you go to sleep, and tell Nest to go into energy conservation mode in other areas of the house.  It then recognizes when you awake in the morning, in turn triggering your Nest thermostat to dynamically adjust the rest of the house back to a comfortable temperature according to prior data logs.  Regardless if its Nest, Comcast or any of the other numerous companies that have created a successful model based on digital business concepts, you can bet there is one thing they all possessed. . .the ability to VISUALIZE the possibilities digital business provides to their organization.




Source: “The Future Of Business Is Digital” by Nigel Fenwick & Martin Gill For more info on digital business: Data source: Forrester/Russell Reynolds 2014 Digital Business Online Survey


If you’re reading this, and can already envision the endless possibilities digital business can provide, you are on your way to success. Visualization is the component of digital business that determines the success of the model as applied to different situations.

If you are still asking the question, “Will digital business disrupt our business?”, you are already way behind.  The executives that understand the new era of a digital economy will find themselves leading the way to a successful future. Yet so many businesses continue to dismiss change and ignore their competitors’ advancements to their own detriment.   The ones who stay ahead of the digital curve thrive, and the ones that don’t invest in emerging technology eventually fade off into Chapter 11.

Blockbuster:  A case study in how NOT to visualize.
Blockbuster was once was the clear cut leader in the movie rental industry, yet failed to foresee their inevitable demise initiated by a fledgling startup known as Netflix.  What most people forget is that Netflix didn’t start out streaming movies online. They sent DVD’s through the mail. What allowed them to thrive was the foresight to evolve with the changes the digital age had in store for their business model, while their largest competitor continued with business as usual.  Netflix continues to grow and now use data analytics and digital business strategies to predict what their subscribers will watch with incredible accuracy.   Their willingness to adapt and invest in emerging digital and data strategies took down a corporate behemoth, and they now have moved their sights to all of the major cable providers in the US, and have even produced their own original shows.  Like so many others, Blockbusters’ management failed to visualize that the future of their industry was going digital.  Unfortunately, we see this too many times, as business owners are too stubborn, or cheap, to innovate.  What they don’t realize is they CAN’T AFFORD not to innovate.

Next in the Digital Business blog series:  An in-depth view of the mobile impact on digital business models.  Please follow us for more great content to come!


Digital Business: A conceptual overview.

I feel compelled to research and write about Digital Business, as I truly believe the concepts behind it have already set in motion a revolution in the way the world conducts business. This is also my attempt at preventing business leaders (both present and future) from waking up the morning after their organization collapsed………in hindsight, realizing it was the lack of conceptual knowledge that ultimately led to them being trampled on by smarter competitors who not only embraced the new, fully digitized world, but also prepared for it.  Take what you read here and use it as a springboard to launch your creative juices, and stimulate a vision on applying the core concepts of ‘Digital Business’ to your organization.

What is ‘Digital Business’

Source: “The Future Of Business Is Digital” by Nigel Fenwick & Martin Gill For more info on digital business: Data source: Forrester/Russell Reynolds 2014 Digital Business Online Survey

You may have already heard the term, and it being described as the future of business.  You may already know it’s something every organization needs to adapt to, but what does it mean? 

Gartner describes it as “the creation of new business designs that blur the digital and physical worlds.”  The 2 core concepts I think about when defining digital business are integration and rapid response.  It’s the blending of predictive analytics, digital technologies, artificial intelligence and the resulting real-time response.

To elaborate, let’s take a look at an example-

If you’ve ever had your cable hooked up, then you’ve probably been given a rather large window of the time of day your cable guy might show up, and how sometimes that window can last half a day.  In response to this issue posed to its’ customers, Comcast announced an app that allows their customers to track the assigned technician’s location in real time via their smartphones.  Now with this app, you will know exactly when your technician will show up, allowing you to plan the rest of your day accordingly, without having to stay at home while you wait.  The technicians’ GPS integrates with the app through the internet, allowing real-time updates to the consumer.  As you are probably aware, GPS already exists and so does the internet, but it’s the integration between that GPS device and the internet that initiates a rapid response.  It’s through the integration of all these tools combined (mobile, GPS, internet)  that defines the concept of ‘digital business’.

Get digital, or get out of the way.

Shifting the way we connect from desktop to mobile

At this point in the 21st century, it is accepted as common knowledge that the future of business is constantly changing.  Consumers expect to get what they want, when they want at the push of a button.  In just 10 years, we’ve seen this button go from the enter key on your desktop keyboard, to a ‘Buy Now” touch icon on your smartphone.  According to Pew Internet, “58% of American adults have a smartphone and 34% of cell internet users go online mostly using their phones, and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer”.

Therefore, if your business isn’t utilizing the growing benefits available via smartphone integration, you can bet a large percentage of your customers are moving to competitors who are.  It might be getting clearer that the backbone to the digital business model is the cell phone, and if mobile is the backbone, then the use of sensors and the data they capture, is the hipbone………and yes, they are connected.

Sensors and the Cloud:  A match made in digital heaven?

Please see Part 2 for more on the role of sensors in Digital Business, and the keys to visualization………………