The Promise of Digital Technologies: From Ubiquitous Data to Unlimited Connectivity

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The Promise of Digital Technologies: From Ubiquitous Data to Unlimited Connectivity | Copyright Clearance Center

New and powerful digital technologies are good for business in many ways. Going digital can certainly help organizations to market better their products and services. Yet digital is at its most transformative when organizations use it not to sell but to solve customer problems. 

In the new book Designed for Digital, out this week from MIT Press, Jeanne Ross and her coauthors unroll a blueprint for digital success created for executives at established companies.  Digital business design is not about restructuring or about IT architecture, though both are important. 

STREAM THE INTERVIEW 

Designed for (Digital) Customers

Designed for Digital emphasizes the creation and cultivation of five essential building blocks, including a digital platform that permits a company to configure offerings rapidly and an accountability framework that balances individual and team autonomy with alignment to organizational goals. 

“I think it’s important to focus on the capabilities of technologies rather than the technologies themselves,” says Ross, Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research. 

Digital technologies, she says, “give us ubiquitous data, which basically means there is nothing we can’t know. When we’re trying to imagine what we can do for customers, we should start with the premise that, if there’s something we need to know, as long as we have a value proposition, we can find a way to get that data. It’s ubiquitous.” 

“The second thing is we have unlimited connectivity. And that means not only can we get that data, but we can get it as it happens, as things occur. And we can resolve issues, we can distribute new information pretty much instantaneously, because we have IoT and we have mobility, so there is a way to react to the data and the analysis that we can do. 

“Finally, we have massive processing power. Because of that, we won’t be overwhelmed by our data. We can take it. We can process it. This is why AI is a real possibility now.” 

 View the full transcript here. 

HIGHLIGHTS 

CHRIS KENNEALLY: let’s talk about, first, what digital technologies do that’s so different – that is, as you would put it, so game-changing. There are three important capabilities that digital technologies offer.  

JEANNE ROSS: Yes. I think it’s important to focus on the capabilities of technologies rather than the technologies themselves. And I think the thing that the technologies – and here, I’m talking about social, mobile, analytics, cloud, Internet of things, the AI, the blockchain – that whole list of technologies – the three things they do is (a) they give us ubiquitous data, which basically means there is nothing we can’t know. So when we’re trying to imagine what we can do for customers, we should start with the premise that, if there’s something we need to know, as long as we have a value proposition, we can find a way to get that data. It’s ubiquitous. 

The second thing is we have unlimited connectivity. And that means not only can we get that data, but we can get it as it happens, as things occur. And we can resolve issues, we can distribute new information pretty much instantaneously, because we have IoT and we have mobility, so there is a way to react to the data and the analysis that we can do. 

Finally, we have massive processing power. Because of that, we won’t be overwhelmed by our data. We can take it. We can process it. This is why AI is a real possibility now. So we have unlimited data, unlimited connectivity, unlimited processing power. It means we can do things that were absolutely not possible in the past business environment.  

CK: you should tell us more about what digital design is, Jeanne Ross, but we can start perhaps by talking about what it’s not, which is it’s not restructuring. It’s not an end stage. It’s not something you get to and you can stop.  

JR: That’s exactly right. And I think this is why it’s so hard to do. It recognizes that we’re constantly changing as an organization. So the thing about structure and why we like to rely on structure for executing our strategy is it’s stable. We can say we’re going to put serious resource into something, and then we put serious resource into it, and we hope for the best coming out of that. 

Today, I think what we can’t know is what tomorrow holds. There’s going to be new technologies, there’s going to be more data, there’s going to be changing customer demand. There are evolving industries, new competitors. We wake up every morning to change. And if we want to deal with that effectively as a business, we better design ourselves for change. And that’s just a totally different way of thinking about your business, and it means you’re designing an agile organization rather than structuring a company intended to fulfill a very specific strategy. 

Recommended Reading 

Christopher Kenneally

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's podcast series Beyond the Book, which debuted in 2006 and has posted over 1.5 million downloads. As CCC's Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.

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