So, what will the digitally transformed enterprise of the 2020’s (and earlier in some cases) look like? How will it work? What will make it different from today’s leading edge enterprises? And what key technologies will enable it?

Here are some of the key differentiators from what we expect today:

  • Customer Experience: The design of tangible products and of services / experiences will be dynamically customized to customers’ preferences as specified, inferred, or anticipated.
  • Speed: Anecdotally, Millennials are reputed to lack the ability for delayed gratification, but in fact we’d all rather have what we want sooner than later. So we see overnight delivery morphing to same day delivery. In the near future, we’ll have real-time delivery (i.e., downloads) of customized products.
  • Operational Efficiency: Quite frankly, there is still a tremendous amount of waste in business. We waste resources, money, and time. The digitally transformed organization will come much closer to having the right people, products, parts, materials, resources, and relationships in the right places at the right times.
  • Profitability: The digitally transformed business will continually monitor its global ecosystems to identify and secure more cost effective alternatives to existing resources of all kinds while dynamically pricing its products, services, and solutions to ensure appropriate long-term ROI.

Explaining in detail how each of these objectives will be achieved will be the subject of future posts, but we can say that each of the following technologies will critical to enabling these capabilities:

However, equally important will be the overall operational architecture of the organization. That is, most of the operations of digitally transformed organizations will be autonomic.

autonomic-nervous-system-diagramYou may recall studying the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) in high school biology class. The ANS is that part of our nervous systems which controls all of the subconscious functions of our body. For example, heartbeat, breathing, digestion, maintenance of hormone and chemical balances, etc.

To a degree we can control some of these functions consciously. Meditation can allow us to slow our heartbeat. We can hold our breath – at least until we pass out, the ANS takes over again and we resume breathing. But almost all of the time, the ANS manages all of these functions without our ever having to think about it – and much better than we ever could if we did have to think about it!

The Autonomic Enterprise will be similar. Routine functions will be managed without human involvement being required – most of the time. Intelligent Agents will direct these activities far faster and more efficiently than people can. But this doesn’t mean people will be out of a job. Not at successful digitally transformed organizations anyway!

People will become available to focus their time and attention on ensuring that the autonomic systems are working as intended and managing exceptions when they don’t. And they’ll apply their creativity to continually improving the products, services and Customer Experience the organization is delivering at the same time. Far more interesting and challenging work for people – especially once they are freed up from the boring, repetitive tasks that autonomic systems can perform much faster and more effectively.

Next: Digital Transformation at the Intersections of Emerging Technologies