The Brave New World of Digital Business

On a trip to New York last week, I had the great opportunity to visit the Henri Matisse exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which shows his Cut-Outs and is the most extensive and a very impressive exhibition of this period of Matisse´s work. If you happen to be in New York before February – don´t miss it. While walking through the exhibition hall, I saw a young man wearing a Google Glass, moving relatively fast through the exhibits. It looked like he didn´t notice the people around him and seemed to follow a different, invisible path. At some time, I felt a bit sorry for him, because he left away some of those exhibits, which I found to be the most impressive ones.

Digital Business is where digital and analog worlds merge or blur, a digital layer put on top of our analog world in any facet you could think of. Billions of people, businesses and devices communicate, interact, negotiate with each other, and create a trillion moments of opportunities. Digital Business is the design of business models for those moments, and also their exploration. Maybe, the person with the Google Glass had been guided to a part of the exhibition, which was less crowded at that very moment, or he hurried up because the nearby Starbucks Café offered deal tailored to his preferences.

The problem with such digital business designs which come along with technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), with a new generation of cognitive machines (“Siri”), with wearables (Smart Watch, Glass…), robotics and 3D printing, is that they are operational by nature. IT professionals, who nowadays are more back-office and infrastructure oriented, need to understand the impact of digital business if they want to keep pace with providing technology and risk mitigation.

In less than 5 years from now, all business and technology leaders will need digital business skills. And in the meantime, you should consider hiring a “Chief Digital Officer” or create something like a “Digital Innovation Office”, where the average age of employees might be significantly lower than in other departments. Also, CIOs and CISOs need to find out whether their current technology partners are still the right ones, or if they need get closer to the sources of Digital Business Innovation.

After all – getting back to the guy I saw in the MoMA – even in Digital Business you need to have an attractive story to tell if you want to succeed. Although I don´t think that the Google Glass could add any additional value to the experience I personally had at the Matisse exhibition - in many other situations during my stay in New York, such a personal, privacy enhanced digital assistant would have been just great.

This article has originally appeared in the KuppingerCole Analysts' View newsletter.



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