Friday, 13 May 2016 02:22

Digital Disruption: Looking Into the Future


Over the last 15 years, people have viewed technology disruption in terms of how technology — like the cloud, Big Data and the Internet of Things — changed how specific tasks were done. Michael Biltz, managing director of Accenture Technology Vision, says that companies must move beyond focusing just on how to use technology and instead understand how technology will impact the consumer or a specific industry.


The reason for this fundamental shift is that the digital economy can reinvent the way different industries interact. For example, a healthcare platform no longer just tracks a patient’s stay in a hospital. It extends to aftercare, like prescriptions and physical therapy. When the platform starts to embrace preventive medicine, it can impact companies beyond healthcare providers, such as gyms and insurance firms.


“Across the board, these boundaries slowly go away and allow people to look at bigger problems,” Biltz says. “In the case of healthcare, the issue is no longer about just how do I make my hospital visit better or how do I get better data about a drug or a disease. It becomes how do I make myself healthier as an individual. That’s very, very powerful from an individual perspective, and it also provides a huge scope of opportunity for companies.”


Taking the Long View

Because large global companies cannot realistically expect to change themselves in a few weeks or months as new platforms emerge, they need to map out scenarios of how platforms might disrupt their industries far in advance. Fortunately, unlike technology revolutions of past eras, the disruptive forces of these new ecosystems can be predicted with a high level of certainly.

“If you can start to predict three to five years down the road, suddenly you now have the opportunity to make an upfront investment that allows you to pick and choose what your role is going to be in the economy of the future,” Biltz says.


Early entrants in the digital economy are already showing how digital platforms can position themselves in altogether new areas and industries. Take Uber, for example. Originally, it built out a mobile device platform to create an ecosystem of connected cars and drivers that disrupted the taxi industry. As that foundation settled, Uber is now using that same ecosystem to push disruption into new sectors, such as the recent trial of UberHealth in Boston, which provides flu shots and other health services. A person uses his or her Uber app to order a house call from a nurse, for example, instead of a ride.


While Uber is well-known as a beacon of digital transformation, even traditional industries are becoming digital and disrupting other industries. For decades, General Electric built essential tools for all major industrial sectors. Its most obvious evolution would be to add Internet connectivity to those devices. However, GE is going beyond that. Rather than just build wind turbines, GE is partnering with energy companies to build software systems to improve the turbines output, becoming a key player in alternative energy sourcing.


“Whether or not these digital transformations are something that’s going to be good for your business, they’re going to change your business,” Biltz says. “You need to understand the economics that are being formed around you and understand what role you will play in them.”




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