Went on a holiday? Visited a festival? Enjoyed a romantic city trip? Forget about it right now and get back into work mode. 2017 is far from over and you have things to do. Listening to Gartner, for example. This technical superpower recently introduced the concept “intelligent digital mesh”, which is the combination of people, devices, content and services. Gartner states that the future is in the hands of digital businesses that enable this mesh by blurring the lines between the real and the virtual world. Time to panic? Not yet. You still have 110 days until New Years’ Eve, and I’ll get you started on your mesh in this article.
Why do I need a mesh? I don’t want one.
I know a lot of CEOs and IT strategists that believe things are fine as they are. Their sector is “old fashioned”, their customers are “loyal” and the digital world is “far away”. Sure, they’ll implement an ESB to integrate internal systems and to optimize communications flows, but that’s it. This strategy worked perfectly fine five years ago, but this is not 2012. It’s 2017, and it’s game on. It doesn’t matter if you’re a transit company or a LED light expert; today’s business success lies in offering digital services that make the life of customers easier and their daily activities more convenient. Or in other words: companies thrive on the happiness of their customers. And now that customer happiness is mainly created by the right service, product or information at the right time, you need devices, technologies and ideas to make that happen. And there you have it: your intelligent digital mesh.
Part one. Intelligent
Your intelligent digital mesh is built out of three components, and I’ll briefly explain them to you in the next paragraphs. First up is intelligent. Customers are people, and people are flexible. They go from one place to the other, maybe visit a friend along the way, make a few phone calls and do a little online shopping. If your applications operate according to predefined rules, you’ll never be able to keep up with their pace. This is why Gartner emphasizes the need to focus on artificial intelligence (AI for close friends) and machine learning. By making your systems smart, you enable them to learn and adapt to the situation autonomously. Banks, for example, can use AI to make real time transactions possible and predict potential fraudulent ones. This makes them flexible, fast and more helpful to their clients. You can use the same intelligence for your apps and devices. You can develop intelligent apps that use Big Data and analytics to create a more personal user experience for your customers. Transit companies, for example, more and more use smart apps to communicate real time information on train schedules and delays.
Part two. Digital
Like I said in the introduction, you create an intelligent digital mesh by blurring the lines between the real and the virtual world. This has everything to do with the need to be at the right place at the right time. Most companies can’t be, because they’re on the other side of the world or because they lack time, money and people. By making the virtual world look more like the real one, they can be omnipresent without being physically there. This is why Gartner predicts a wider usage of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in the near future. With these techniques, people can be remotely trained, consulted or even shown around in their new -entirely decorated- homes. Gartner also mentions the concept of the digital twins, and this really caught my attention. A digital twin is a dynamic software model of a thing, meaning it’s a virtual simulation. When collecting data from the real thing through sensors, companies will soon be able to predict certain behavior and responses by analyzing the digital twin. Imagine that an airline attached sensors to their airplanes and built a virtual simulation model of the same plane. By using real time data on speed, weather conditions and height, they can analyze the virtual model and make predictions and do improvements.
Part three. Mesh
In this story, the mesh refers to the connections between all of the above. Call it an ecosystem of people, devices, systems and information. To realize this ecosystem, you need a platform that supports and integrates all the tools and technologies mentioned before. This sometimes means you need to purchase or build new tools and architectures. Take customer communication tools, for example. Back in the old days, people had to be very precise if they wanted their computer to give them the right output. Today, it’s your job to have your applications interpret the customers’ questions and respond by giving the right answer. This means you need to integrate information systems with analytics and intelligence to give the right answer. At the right time. At the right place. Second, you need to find a way to add services for IoT to the platform. How will you translate the data that is being derived by your smart devices? How will you secure them? Building a so-called digital technology platform is a lot of work, and requires both a strategic and a cultural shift within your company. The result is worth it, though, as your intelligent digital mesh will bring you into closer contact with your customers and help you be more helpful to them. Sounds like something you want to have!
Will you use the upcoming 110 days to create your intelligent digital mesh? Let me know by leaving a comment!
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