2014: a tipping point for the connected business

According to the presentation at Orange Business Live last month in Orlando by Ted Schadler, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, this year is a tipping point for the connected business, bringing digital disruption throughout the enterprise, as well as digital enablement.

This disruption is causing shockwaves throughout businesses and industries, changing customer interactions, customer behaviors, service delivery models and operational processes.  From ubiquitous mobile data connectivity that allows people to use their local big box store to research products that they eventually buy online for a lower cost, to social media that allow consumers to share on Pinterest, rules are changing for both businesses and consumers alike. 

One example cited by Ted in his presentation was a robotic coffee kiosk that is personalizing the coffee experience to address individual preferences, letting customers order coffee in advance and share their personal recipes.  The software-based nature of the kiosk brings a flood of data into the company, giving the business an opportunity to benefit from a flood of data about operations, customers and performance. 

computers make way for tablets and smartphones as collaboration thrives

When almost everyone is reluctant to go anywhere without phone in hand, pocket or purse, the way employees communicate and collaborate is also changing; no longer are people tied to their desks and computer to get work done. According to Forrester, the dynamics and expectations of workers are changing with the influx of mobile devices and communication options, be it email, instant messaging, web conferencing or video chat. While the computer is the primary device for email, other types of devices are overtaking the computer as a preferred tool.  There’s clearly a mind shift taking place for workers, though I suspect the portable nature of smartphones and tablets boosts usage as well.

re-engineering business for mobile

There’s some debate about whether mobile will be more disruptive than social, the Internet, or [insert your choice of disruptive technology].  And while most people’s first thought is of the smartphone, it’s important to keep wearable technology in mind which, according to Wired, will potentially be even more disruptive than the smartphone. 

In his presentation, Ted cited the following examples of how mobility is disrupting business:

  • new business models: A U.S. consumer satellite provider was able to give tablets to their field operations to help them obtain signatures (enabling digital “paper trails”), upsell, troubleshoot, re-route service calls
  • new service-enhanced products: A smart thermostat and smoke alarm company was able to take a “dumb” product and add energy-saving services and remote control, making it easy for customers to save money on utilities.
  • service-based pricing models: An on-demand car-sharing service app, matches drivers with customers, prioritizing convenience using a dynamic pricing model that fluctuates based on demand and supply.    

According to Ted’s presentation, this mobile shift requires businesses to re-engineer their processes, platforms and products.  42% of people now expect a company to have a mobile app at their disposal.  Many of these businesses have built their business models from scratch, which gives them a competitive advantage as they can fully leverage digital platforms and processes to optimize customer experience and automate back-office applications.  And, these apps provide a wealth of insight into users preferences and habits, which can be harnessed to improve and personalize customers’ experiences and build loyalty. 

connected business and technology

When companies combine connected products with digital platforms and processes and add analytics to respond quickly to customer needs, they are at a considerable competitive advantage to companies that are struggling with legacy business models, processes and tools. Businesses with legacy infrastructures are compelled to move quickly to adapt to these new dynamics by incorporating digital throughout the business and within products.  According to Ted’s presentation, the dynamics of technology of connected business can be summarized into:

  • cloud shifts the architecture of delivery
  • mobile shifts customer engagement
  • analytics shifts optimization opportunities
  • software shifts value delivery
  • network anchors all of it

Each component of the business IT infrastructure has a critical role in this shift to the connected business. Moreover, in 2014, all of these changes are shifting simultaneously, requiring an immense amount of orchestration on the part of IT.  No wonder we’re reaching a tipping point this year. 

I’ll discuss a few of these shifts based on my takeaways at Orange Business Live in more detail in future blog posts.


Katie DeTitta

I've spent more than 17 years in global telecommunications, and was formerly responsible for international social media activities at Orange Business. I enjoy making technology accessible to non-techies and I'm a strong supporter of flexible working.