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Is Digital going to make you obsolete?

What tactics can help companies and organizations to stay relevant and competitive given the scale and pace of change all around us today?  This is a question that technology firms like my company (Fujitsu) have to answer daily for themselves and their customers.

Is the fundamental answer going ‘Digital’? It might very well be the case or at least have the drive to do so.

For some of us Digital has become nothing more than the latest buzz-word. Regardless of all interpretations and noise what does Digital really mean to organizations and people?

Some consider it merely the frontend interactions with customers online. For others it is a unprecedented chance (or set of chances) to re-invent and re-shape the business model. Digital seems to be the way IT must effectively and efficiently support business and business models in the years to come. I believe that’s a good starting point for a definition.

In other words, Digital is then defined as organizations and people that are consciously embracing technology to modernize and potentially transform their businesses, with the key technologies at present (i.e. not limited to) being social media, mobile, analytics and cloud.

Digital is therefore not simply the elimination of paper trails, automating existing processes or system integration activities. It includes the use of disruptive and innovative technology (social, mobility, analytics and cloud) so customers are driven to a profoundly altered UX (user experience) whilst still boosting sale revenues and reducing costs for the provider(s). People today expect to be served with ever more relevant content and data without compromise wherever they are and on whatever devices they have.

Digital is thus setting a different expectation of how our lives can (or should) be made easier and in the end more efficient on a wide scale ranging from consumer services and products, from banking experiences to personalized retail, from a customized transportation journey without blockers to adjustable utility services and from a digital timeline and unique service when requesting building permit to a personalized experience when preparing to elect a new government.

Consider this example. The transport sector has incorporated Digital in particular when it comes to mobile ticketing. Is that satisfactory as experience? Why stop there? There are still key opportunities across the entire journey a consumer takes ranging from the acceptance of a mobile ticket all the way through an airport through to embarkation onto the plane. Anonymous passengers can equally be turned into customers by targeting promotions and even be used to better comprehend journey patterns in order to drive efficiency or manage security and people flow in an end-to-end transport network.

Digital clearly impacts both front office and back office operational business processes. Additionally there is also a need for continued provision of non-digital interaction in the most efficient manner, which could involve digitalization of paper forms or connecting to users face to face via digital channels. It is however a mistake to use digital just to drive out some inefficiencies. The fundamental value lies in re-inventing, re-shaping and bridging the front office and the back office.

Digital is fundamentally changing the way in which people expect to engage with enterprises, governments and society, providing exciting opportunities for both private and public sector organizations to serve their users at levels of personalization previously unimaginable but absolutely expected by today’s consumers. Companies who meet this digital demand grow others risk quickly becoming uncompetitive and eventually obsolete.

While a fully digitally inclusive society might not be possible just yet (or even desirable in some areas such as private data), the horizon certainly looks bright for countries, companies, organizations and communities where everyone is included in the drive towards digital.


Frederik De Breuck is better known as Stonyarc (GamerTag). Next to writing and maintaining his personal blog he is the owner of and . He's also Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) since 2010 and works as Presales Director for Fujitsu Belgium.

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