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BBC 2016: Delivering the Digital Dream for Real


I am attending this year’s Building Business Capability conference and blogging sessions like this one from Jim Sinur of Aragon Research. I gave a tutorial earlier in the week on decision modeling with DMN and will be speaking later in the week with David Herring of Kaiser Permanente (and signing my new book, Available now! Real-World Decision Modeling with DMN, at the bookstore after the session). Jim’s presentation is on Delivering the Digital Dream for Real, part of his focus on the move to digital. He plans to share real-world examples, discuss technologies that are out there, and outline a methodology for applying them.

His premise is that companies can only hide from, submit to or leverage digital transformation – it can no longer be ignored. Digital is the new normal and someone will use digital transformation to compete with you.

img_20161102_103851627_hdrWhy should organizations start on this journey? Digital change is happening so companies have to decide on an appropriate response. Companies can be divided based on digital capability and leadership capability. Digital Masters show higher revenue and market valuation while beginners get heavily punished. Those being conservative about it lose revenue while those chasing fashions get a revenue bump but at a cost.

The business and technical forces pulling on you vary by industry. Jim gave an example of a company that seemed like it was in an interesting space but new technologies like social undermined their model.

The journey, if you have control of it, goes like this:

  1. Customer delight
  2. Business operations
  3. New products and services
  4. Business model transformation

But if you get disrupted in the meantime you will have to accelerate it. And improvements in business operations fund the innovations you need. The future of business operations is mobile-first, enlightened decisions and smart actions. Understanding the customer journey is critical as it identifies WHEN you have to make a decision and WHAT decision is going to move the customer forward. Some examples:

  • One example journey is of a customer in a store. As they move around, as they shop in specific areas the store is going to use as digital platform with rules, analytics and cognitive capability to make good marketing and customer service decisions at the right moment.
  • Another example is doctors on their rounds. Same idea – what’s the journey, what do they need to know/have access to/have suggested to them at each point.
  • A third example was a surgery center using a digital platform and tags/sensors to improve operations. They would simulate the planned surgeries the night before and this gave them a baseline that could be used to drive visibility into variations. Plus the tags and models allowed them to find and inform loved ones, patients or staff as necessary.
  • Using IoT to manage power systems and help consumers reduce cost while helping the power company manage resources.
  • Using IoT to track dementia patients and use what’s known about the patient and their behavior to track when to intervene and what kind of intervention is appropriate.
  • IoT data to manage very distributed infrastructure and manage the staff who need to work on it. Drones and more are adding to this mix.

img_20161102_110238448_hdrWe live in a world, he says, with emerging processes that “swarm” to follow some goal. Processes will be changing from flow-directed to goal-directed. Workers, knowledge-workers, managers, services (including analytic and cognitive services), robots and sensors will all be coordinated much more dynamically. This will require both simple and emergent processes ranging from structured processes to more case/collaborative ones to IoT/Agent/Collaborative based ones. And all of them will require smart decision-making.

He illustrated this with a company’s evolving approach to farming. First they scattered measurement pills to track water and fertilizer that would sound alarms when something was needed. Then they linked these pills to bots to take the farmers out of the loop. And now they are linking these to water run off models to stop watering if water is coming anyway.

To get here, companies need a digital target: Goals, phases, benefits and costs; an idea of the organization, skills and technology that will be needed; actual POCs, a measurement approach and some capability for experimentation. This is based on executive vision, plans, customer input, competitive issues, constraints and technologies (both new and legacy). One of the most important things is to establish some business and technical principles that can be broadly applied for example:

  • Attract and spoil customers
  • Create operational excellence
  • Business first IT collaboration
  • Designing for sustainability

New competencies include constituent engagement, hyper awareness, complex problem solving, anticipatory decision making, innovative productivity, operations agility and more.

A digital business platform has lots of technology – some of it is ready, some less so.

  • Collaboration, journey mapping, big and fast data, and pattern processing (analytics) are all good.
  • Cloud integration, advanced analytics, IoT, video and 3D printing, augmented reality, block chain and cognitive are more or less ready

Leveraging these new technologies is a journey – a maturity model that ranges from initiating to opportunistic to managed, habitual and ultimately fully leveraged.

A digital platform helps organizations blend people, compute power and physical devices to deliver the best possible outcome. In an accident, for instance, your phone detects the accident and checks vital signs of passengers using smart clothes and the vehicle’s sensors. It communicates immediately with insurers and others to drive an automated yet highly tailored response. A platform that makes great and well informed decisions.

img_20161102_112216245_hdrIt needs to include

  • Processes and Cases
  • Cognition and Calculations – Decisions
  • Data and System Integration
  • Machines and Sensors
  • Business Applications