Most organizations are built to solve customer / citizen’s problems or service customer needs, whether it is a non for profit or a small private business or a big enterprise. Some of them directly solve customer’s problem, some indirectly by enabling customer facing organizations through technology or raw materials. Technology role over the period of time has been changing from organizational efficiency improvement to business enabler with a remit of solving business problems and changing user behaviors.
We are living in a complex world in which we are increasingly getting dependent on technology for everyday things. This trend is irreversible. In 2009, at the IBM impact conference in Delhi, I 1st heard about Smart Planet initiative and the concept of System of Systems. In his Keynote Neeraj Chandra, doctor get’s previous history information about the patient at real time; doctor write the prescription and the medicine get’s delivered to the patient at his residence and so on. It’s a world where various systems from diverse set of organizations are working together seamlessly to provide a simplified experience to the citizen of this smart city. Smart Grid is another complex technology solution which is now a reality. Organizations are now taking initiatives in building technologies for Smart Buildings, Smart Rail, Smart Water and so on.
A few years back this article in NewYork Times “The Power of the Platform at Apple” caught my attention. This article interestingly defines platform as a combination of hardware, software & services and also shares insights on how companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft and others have been able to create a long term sustainable competitive differentiation for themselves. The author goes on to say that “Successful platforms aren’t confined to the technology industry. America’s interstate highway system, built by the government, could also be seen as platform. The more that people traveled it, the more opportunity it created for businesses and towns linked to its transportation network”. As technology is becoming pervasive, we will see more and more organizations investing in building platforms for multiple organizations to come together to solve citizen’s problems like the IBM Smart City, Khan Academy’s educational platforms and others.
Our world is changing at an incredible speed. Challenges such as globalization, pressure on driving efficiencies, power of the consumer, power of employees, changing world economy, individual’s dependency on technology, have driven the need for radical innovation in order to differentiate. Technology is changing faster than any other factors to a point where it is now challenging organizations current business models. Last week at Gartner’s Symposium the Keynote speakers Chris Howard, Partha Iyengar, Peter Sondergaard introduced audience to the nexus of converging forces – social, mobile, cloud and information and how it is and will continue to transform user behavior both within and outside of our organization to creating new challenges and business opportunities. Gartner’s 2012 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies chart includes many fast maturing disruptive technologies like Social Analytics, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Mobile Payment and others, leading to significant scenarios that enterprises and governments can leverage to deliver new value and experiences to customers and citizens. Every forces in the nexus has it’s unique challenges and it brings opportunities for businesses. For example internet penetration trend and social media adoption/consumptions patterns differs from geography to geography and demography.
Entrepreneurs will leverage these new set of forces and challenges to innovate and create new solutions, services and business models. There will be a flood of solutions based on one, two or all of the forces solving point problems, but the winner will be the one who will take a holistic approach to invest in creating the platform that will enable and help participate in the ecosystem created by various enterprises, governments, other institutions and the internet.