While Social Business continued to evolve in 2012, 2013 will see the emergence of digital business as a new strategic theme for many firms. What's driving this shift and what does it mean for CIOs, CEOs, and chief digital officers?
The Communications Evolution
Communications continue to evolve. Consider how humans have transformed communications over the centuries: signal fires; semaphore; Morse code; the telegraph; the telephone; telex; fax; email; SMS; Facebook; and Twitter. I have no doubt that this evolution will continue in 2013 and beyond. Perhaps beyond 2013 we will eventually achieve the ability to communicate our thoughts directly — whether we’ll want to is a different question. As people the world over learn to use new social networking tools, they drop older tools that are no longer useful to them. Regardless of where you are in your personal communications evolution, the undeniable truth is that over the past decade we have significantly changed how people communicate; we are no longer dependent upon email. But social tools and 24/7 mobile access have not removed the complexity or decreased the volume of information we must process. Time remains our most precious resource and we’ll always seek ways to use it more effectively — but social tools are not necessarily the silver bullet we might think. In 2013 we need to rethink business processes to take this new communications paradigm into account.
It is end of the year and time for predictions. Mine are rather intuitive, with a few obvious implications for CIOs:
First, the industry will continue to push innovation to businesses faster than businesses can absorb. In addition to customer obsessions — BOYD and tablets, social business processes, cloud computing, machine-to-machine applications, and many others — CIOs will continue to struggle with the usual suspects: huge expectations of technology from business stakeholders, cost reductions, people’s longer-than-expected learning curves, skills shortages, immature management practices, and a few more:
Increasingly complex technology stacks. Rather than replacing legacy capabilities, most of the new products and services increase the complexity of existing technology stacks. For example, mobile devices and social apps come on top of enterprise systems of record in which organizations have invested for decades and are not ready to dispose of so quickly.
Increasingly dynamic business models. The more technology products and services become embedded in business processes and services, the more non-IT organizations, products, and business models start resembling IT ones. Cars are becoming complex tech devices, and industries that preserved their stable structures for decades are transitioning to a continuous state of dynamic change. Take, for example, the utility sector.