Accelerating change in technology has brought increased competition, new marketing channels and innovative business models making it difficult for companies to keep up. Fortunately, the problem is also the solution. Change creates opportunity.
TRANSITIONING INTO THE INFORMATION AGE
Just as the advent of factories and mass production transformed an agrarian society into the manufacturing economy of the industrial age, the digital revolution is transforming business as we progress further into the information age.
From the introduction of personal computers in the late 70’s, the merging of computers and telecommunications, and the birth of the Internet in the early 90’s, to the deployment of fiber optic networks, the dot-com movement, wireless data transmission, and now smartphones and the Internet of things, the information age has created a knowledge-based business landscape within a high-tech global economy. As manufacturing businesses decline, the convenience of and dependence upon information systems will increasingly define business in the information age.
DOING MORE WITH LESS
The merging of computers and telecommunications in the information age affects every aspect of business, from idea creation, product design and development to manufacturing, distribution, transaction processing, banking, data collection and reporting, resulting in:
- Increased Productivity – Smart companies automate manual processes to reduce costs. Digital marketing platforms engage today’s empowered digital buyers. Instant communications shorten sales cycles, and expand markets.
- Frictionless Transactions – Instant electronic banking and payment systems reduce transaction times and costs. Digital storefronts reduce the need for brick and mortar establishments and direct sales staff.
- Improved Collaboration – Teleconferencing brings dispersed resources together. Telecommuting cuts travel costs and allows for virtual businesses. Document and media sharing facilitates teamwork and speeds up approval cycles.
- Better Decisions –Internet and desktop instant searching provide answers quickly. Realtime dashboards and reporting promote a more responsive organization that can identify needs and make changes faster.
- Greater Velocity– Worldwide access to markets and capital with instant mass communication facilitates the more rapid adoption of new products, faster growth of startups and capturing of market share, putting large and small business on a more equal footing.
As the information age continues to evolve, the universal adoption of the Internet and the recent shifts to cloud services and virtualized environments are creating new opportunities by changing the business landscape in these ways:
- Market Disruption – Cloud and mobile computing are game changers reducing the capital required to launch a business. A fully functioning technology platform with front and back office applications can be obtained for just a monthly payment.
- Increased Agility – Businesses can rapidly scale their operations from dozens to millions of customers. Cloud applications are always available, up-to-date and can be added in hours instead of months.
- New Tools – The digital workplace promises to improve the productivity of information workers by integrating email, social media, feeds, alerts and knowledge databases with voice mail, chat and work processes to enable a universal inbox and everything you need to get your job done. Contextaware searching will reduce the 1.5 hours per day knowledge workers spend looking for information.
- Optimization of IT Resources – Hardware virtualization can reduce the number of servers used in an organization by 75 percent. Hosting, with virtualized machines, virtualized storage and virtualized desktops, can free companies from dependence on support technicians and unexpected IT maintenance costs. Companies need only pay for the computing resources they use, like water or electricity.
- Reliable Bandwidth – Downtime can be eliminated as redundant, always-on, blended bandwidth Internet access and virtualized computational resources become available to every business.
- Information Age 2.0 – “Today the true power of information comes from directing it externally, toward your customers. Leveraging information today should mean increased revenue growth and the creation of entirely new business models, not simply more efficient internal processes,” David DeWolf, posted in Media, Product Development.
The information age puts more tools, knowledge and flexibility into the hands of savvy business leaders, leveling the playing field and enabling them to take advantage of change. The opportunities to be first in a market or new category, start small and grow rapidly, leapfrog competitors or outmaneuver the competition increase as change accelerates. The information age truly rewards those who master the technology.