Digital businesses will compete and seek opportunity in the span of a moment

  • TECH
  • Sunday, 20 Apr 2014

NEW BUSINESS MODEL: As the presence of the Internet of Things grows, the things' ability to generate new types of real-time information and to actively participate in an industry's value stream will also grow.


Business moments will become one of the building blocks of new businesses as the lines between the physical and digital worlds begin to blur. We look at how business moments can be the lens to spot opportunities in a rapidly changing digital future. 

Imagine this: A passenger car collides with a taxi at a busy intersection in a city. What happens in the next few seconds or minutes? What should happen? 

In today's world, humans will call other humans to obtain the necessary help. In the emerging world of digital, we see a different series of events unfold: The car not only calls you to see if you can talk, but also communicates with emergency services, the towing company and the insurance company simultaneously. 

It communicates with your smartphone and the sensors on your clothing to assess your condition and advise the coming ambulance. 

The phone then notifies your emergency contacts to let them know the situation. 

The phone will also query the nearby video cameras to obtain the evidence for the insurance company. Repair estimates are sent to the phone based on a video analysis of the accident scene and a damage report from the car itself. 

Before, a car crash was a purely human moment. Now, because of technology, it becomes a business moment, where things are doing lots of the work now so humans don't have to. Moreover, the services and help are provided more quickly, with higher quality and a lower cost. 

This scenario begs the question, "Who or what — what device or system — is going to make that happen?" A major force is emerging in business that will eventually overtake all business and all industries. This is the rise of digital business. 

The next phase in the evolution of business 

Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds. Digital business will be ushering in an unprecedented convergence of people, business and things, creating new revenue opportunities in its wake. 

It will break down traditional barriers between industry segments, creating completely new value chains and new business opportunities that may not be filled by incumbent players. 

It will also challenge existing industry boundaries and challenge the dominance of leading players in an industry and cause them to rethink the businesses they are in. 

Most will see digital business as a simple extension of an enterprise technology or an e-business past. We call this "digitisation," or using technology to automate existing processes. 

However, that is no longer enough. To compete in a digital world, enterprises must digitalize their models, in which products, services, markets, channels and processes are transformed through digital technologies. 

Gartner believes digital business is the essence of digitalization as it disrupts existing business models — even those that were born of the Internet and e-business eras. Why? 

As the presence of the Internet of Things (such as connected devices, sensors and smart machines) grows, the things' ability to generate new types of real-time information and to actively participate in an industry's value stream will also grow. Things provide information streams that, along with big data, can be analysed to identify business moments. 

We refer to the era defined by the advent of digital business as the "digital industrial revolution." The "digital industrial economy" is the process by which goods and services are produced and sold that result from digital business and the digital industrial revolution. 

Business moments help identify digital business opportunities 

In 2013, Gartner introduced the concept of the business moment — a transient opportunity that is exploited dynamically. Moments are very short in duration (even seconds), depending on the nature of the opportunity. 

They are interconnected with an enterprise's business model and business processes, all of which are being disrupted by digital technologies. They not only are customer "moments of truth" but also impact the entire organisation. We expect these moments to occur more and more frequently as enterprises migrate from today's world to the digital business world. 

In the context of digital business, a business moment is a brief everyday moment in time and the catalyst that sets in motion a series of events and actions involving a network of people, businesses and things that spans or crosses multiple industries and multiple ecosystems. 

These events and actions unleash a loose set of sequences of observe, orient, decide and act (OODA) loop activities where many processes are executed by many resources in many different companies. Moreover, one business moment may trigger or collide with any number of adjacent business moments. 

For example, a smart house could detect when a room has to be repainted and collaborates with the homeowner and the local retailer to identify, select and obtain the necessary supplies and services to get the room repainted. The retailer's system then solicits bids from painters on behalf of the consumer. Or a laundry machine may chime in when detergent is running low. 

Business moments are important, because they will force enterprises to rethink the role they play in a value stream. Business moments, by their very nature, illustrate a wide variety of possibilities and players and help companies envision and design new businesses that integrate people, businesses and things to do things not possible five years ago. 

The trademark of a digital business will be the ability to spot these opportunities, however fleeting. 

CIOs, IT leaders and business leaders can use business moments to highlight digital business opportunities. Every industry has business moments that will be critical to an enterprise and to customers or citizens. These moments of opportunity and competition that lead to the gain or loss of a sale, or the transformation of an industry, can happen in an instant. 

The question is how enterprises will handle these momentary opportunities and challenges in the digital future. 

(Don Scheibenreif is a Research VP with Gartner's Industries Research group. He works with Gartner's consumer goods manufacturing and pharma clients to help them understand the technologies and trends that will drive profitable consumer demand and engagement.) 

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