Digitalization is all about creating customer value in an agile manner. Amidst all the channels and forms of business, the digital ones are the fastest growing. This is a testament to what customers want today and digital expectations are undergoing rapid changes.
For instance, customers who wanted an app for a smooth experience are now looking at context-aware services. It is a significant shift that requires the organizations to be nimble and put their infrastructure under constant load tests with an expectation to support the different personas of business needs.
Organizations across various verticals that have digital infrastructure are successfully navigating the digital journey. They share and leverage a set of common infrastructural traits as part of their overall digital infrastructure strategy. This aims to achieve business benefits and competitive differentiation in the market.
One of the primary approaches is the ‘Outside-In’. This approach takes customer centricity and value as the starting point, and then calculates backwards. IT initiatives, infra, supporting functions like supply chain etc. are all designed / customized to achieve that initiative or customer value proposition.
Examples of an ‘Outside-In’ approach:
- Make shopping experiences better with personalized, context-aware offers that have a high conversion ratio
- Make cinema-going experience better by understanding different classes of customers, and how to turn an average movie into a great watching experience
This approach requires an agile top-down innovation culture and a repeatable infra-system in the organization that can support digital projects in an integrated fashion. It could be as simple as redesigning a shopping cart, aligning systems accordingly, and creating differences at small points or as big as re-architecting everything to suit tomorrow’s needs.
This competitive differentiation is what the organizations are constantly deliberating today. Along with that, they are also looking into the dual requirements of how to draw more customers and retain them.
Successful digital infrastructure companies are always able to present something new to the customer and as we speak, context-aware services are taking shape to achieve these objectives.
Personalization of publicly available services or products further differentiate these organizations. Scalability is another key factor to take into consideration in the quest of consolidation. Organizations like these, therefore, also carefully balance out ‘today vs tomorrow’ needs and create an infrastructure that can support both. Speaking of infrastructure, these organizations generally create a digital backbone or a robust infrastructure that is built on the principles of agility, scalability, and flexibility to support multiple and varied initiatives.
Digital infrastructure services amplify priority changes based on management commitments and strategic outlook with minimal or no changes.
The digital infra is organization specific and encompasses the mix of various architectures (like cloud, SDI, smart devices, and automation), tools and methodologies supported by diverse skillsets. It is needed to arrive at an organization-level infrastructure model that can be leveraged by the various departments, BUs, and initiatives.
It’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, such as, a manufacturing digital backbone may differ immensely from a banking backbone. Or, the enterprise grade security is the first-priority for a bank and it may be replaced by multiple touch points on the shop floor to manage productivity in the manufacturing setup. This may result in structuring various components in different permutations and combinations to suit different needs. Whether it is the partner ecosystem that needs to be leveraged or the customer experience, the key is to know when to leverage.
To fuel the solutions, effective storage and data usage become the key to any such digital initiative. There is an unprecedented data growth, but will this data be useful? The effective use of this data would be the key enabler towards any innovation or competitive advantage.
It is important for the system to be agile enough to recognize patterns and utilize the data insights to create new business opportunities.
These organizations recognize the need of constantly upgrading their workforce and process aspects. Some crucial questions facing the industries are:
- While the IT and other arrangements fall in place, what is required to achieve this differentiation?
- How can skillsets change for people? Will the IT team require new skills since new tools and integrations will be on the cards? What happens to capabilities in terms of IoT initiatives?
- How would a simple order fulfilment process change with the kind of agility and automation that is expected to proliferate the industriesenvironment?
The digital journey of any organization initiates from automating processes or other operations in a siloed arena. Different BUs or departments undertake initiatives that lead to simplification, or creation, of platforms that can enable and be the basis of business.
Once the platforms are simplified, the integrated systems pave the path for digital applications in the organization.
Digital Twins is one such example. Digital Twins can be implemented in manufacturing environment, that combine the physical asset with the essentials like cloud, IoT, and other technologies and allow the data to be collected, analysed, and monitored as if from a real integrated system.
The benefits could range anywhere from extensive testing to preventing downtimes, creating complex product scenarios or design and development of such systems/products, and testing out options in the context of business requirements without really building them physically.
Next comes the trickiest stage, where the organization unlocks the business value in terms of new business models, like the driving behavior affecting in insurance premiums, and new revenue streams that are repeatable for some time.
The combination of these building blocks and traits helps the organizations create digital infrastructure for the future. They focus on scalability (both up and down) not only in terms of resources but also in terms of cost.
Everything needs to be outcome driven. The cascading effect of one outcome and its effect on the other pieces in the customer environment is carefully analyzed and designed.
Digital infrastructure for tomorrow would not necessarily be characterized by having the best components, but by how well can they integrate. They need to be scalable, flexible and must securely address the business needs of all sizes and shapes.