The digital hub 2014 04-15 #1
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The digital hub 2014 04-15 #1

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We hear a lot of stories about bricks and mortar re-designing their business models to face the new challenges prompted by the “digital”. I am not sure about you, but I generally can’t help and ...

We hear a lot of stories about bricks and mortar re-designing their business models to face the new challenges prompted by the “digital”. I am not sure about you, but I generally can’t help and think that all these noble efforts are commendable, although lack the true digital spirit. Let me explain. Firstly, what do we really mean by Digital? Have you noticed that in the mainstream digital equates to mobile, SEO, analytics, web platforms, and so on. And on. Don’t get me wrong. All these tools are necessary. However, digital is more than the way you generally execute it, right? Digital, from my perspective, is a form of literacy. Yes, it is a new way of thinking brought about by the tremendous progress of technology. There are people born in the digital world and they naturally adopt it and learn how to communicate through it. Most of us, however, are adapting to this new world because we are still transitioning into it.
This is bringing about a revolution that many fail to grasp fully. In the book that I review this month, Paul Boag delineates an interesting parallel. When electricity first started to power industry, it did not change things overnight. Most companies had a chief electricity officer :-) dedicated to managing such an important part of the business. Today, after two decades into the WWW, we still see similar setups in digital as used to exist for electricity. This explains the transition.
Equally important is the effect that the digital is having on companies’ strategies. In the next instalments I will start deconstructing the ‘digital’ to highlight its major components and how these can be combined in innumerable ways to generate truly customer engaging experiences.

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The digital hub 2014 04-15 #1 The digital hub 2014 04-15 #1 Document Transcript

  • 1 2014-04-15, n. #1THE DIGITAL HUB We hear a lot of stories about bricks and mortar re- designing their business models to face the new challenges prompted by the “digital”. I am not sure about you, but I generally can’t help and think that all these noble efforts are commendable, although lack the true digital spirit. Let me explain. Firstly, what do we really mean by Digital? Have you noticed that in the mainstream digital equates to mobile, SEO, analytics, web platforms, and so on. And on. Don’t get me wrong. All these tools are necessary. However, digital is more than the way you generally execute it, right? Digital, from my perspective, is a form of literacy. Yes, it is a new way of thinking brought about by the tremendous progress of technology. There are people born in the digital world and they naturally adopt it and learn how to communi- cate through it. Most of us, however, are adapting to this new world because we are still transitioning into it. This is bringing about a revolution that many fail to grasp fully. In the book that I review this month, Paul Boag delineates an interesting parallel. When electricity first started to power industry, it did not change things overnight. Most companies had a chief electricity of- ficer :-) dedicated to managing such an important part of the busi- ness. Today, after two decades into the WWW, we still see similar setups in digital as used to exist for electricity. This explains the tran- sition. Equally important is the effect that the digital is having on compa- nies’ strategies. In the next instalments I will start deconstructing the ‘digital’ to highlight its major components and how these can be com- bined in innumerable ways to generate truly customer engaging expe- riences. Feel free to email me your comments: michele.arpaia@gmail.com “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” (Henry Fonda) WHAT’S MY PHILOSOPHY? I was born in the pre-digital era. None- theless, digital technology was emerging already at an incredible speed. When it came the time to start working (or stop hanging out at university), the digital was all the rage and had the form of ecommerce. In retrospective we can laugh at the rudimental digitalization of our life just as it was 15 years ago. But I was riding the wave. I have vivid memo- ries of my younger self spending days and nights building web sites, back-end business logic (I was a convinced Java nerd), improve user experience, and tinkering with everything was new. Time went by and I found myself in Aus- tralia. However, though those times are gone I’ve still got the spark for technolo- gy as the product of the practical intel- lect, the exercise of which per se helps perfect us. But all good things can lead us to hubris if we are not careful. So, here it is your dose of good digital sense. http://michelearpaia.blogspot.com THIS MONTH  The Digital Hub  Blog entries  Hot Topics  Book Review—Digital Adaptation by Paul Boag  Digital Reflections: Digital dualism
  • 2 HOT TOPICS LATEST POSTS Omni-channel trans- forms retail transac- tions. This white paper by Toshi- ba’s Together Commerce outlines key omni-channel issues and how successful retailers are transitioning from a traditional POS to a modern and unified Point of Commerce approach the transforms retail transactions. Burberry's Blurred Lines: The Integrated Customer Experience Burberry underwent a seven - year transformation from an underperforming, mar- ginalized, over-licensed, decentralized brand, to becoming one of the most beloved and valuable luxury brands in the world, tripling sales in five years. Grocery shopping is resistant to digital disruption. But data hints at opportuni- ty for change. By Andrew Birmingham Australians spend $60 bil- lion a year on groceries, the vast majority of it in store. And while the data suggests times might be ripe for change - smart phone owners outspend non smartphone owners by two to one – for now grocery remains the retail catego- ry least susceptible to digital disruption. Product Information Management (PIM) genus By Tom Marine There is a movement, particularly among some in the vendor and analyst community to want to use PIM and MDM synonymously; vendors out there keep describing what they offer as a PIM/MDM solution. We see it more like the animal kingdom where MDM is a family of solutions, PIM is a genus within that family, and within PIM exists different spe- cies targeted at different use cases. Heavy Meta Unless you have a process and a technology that allows your team to turn raw product data from suppliers into branded, proprietary descriptions, images, and video, you will have little chance to win them over. This continuous process of enriching product data is an exercise in metadata. And PIM is your metadata as- sistant to turn the frog into a prince! Read more Does Product Centricity conflict with Customer Centricity? It should be clear that customer centricity doesn’t actually conflict with product centricity, because they aren't opposite in direction but orthogonal, so they have little or no effect on each other. That is, the strategies and tactics you follow to be more product centric will have little effect on your share of customer, while cus- tomer-centric strategies will have little effect on your market share Read more PIM: Silo Breaker! What we need is a unified paradigm for capturing, storing, organizing, and searching content as well as people. Interestingly, PIM is an application approach to aggregate product data in order to transform data into information relevant to multiple channels. PIM is more than an application to master product data, PIM is all about collaboration Read more Omni-channel does necessarily mean customer happiness What we need is a unified paradigm for capturing, storing, organizing, and searching content as well as people. Interestingly, PIM is an application approach to aggregate product data in order to transform data into information relevant to multiple channels. PIM is more than an application to master product data, PIM is all about collaboration Read more
  • 3 THE BOOK OF THE MONTH DIGITAL ADAPTATION by PAUL BOAG How to help senior management understand the Web and adapt the business, culture, teams and workflows accordingly? No fluff, no theory — just techniques and strategies that worked in practice, and showed results. This is the brilliance of Boag’s book. I normally find myself skimming business and marketing books, gleaning what I need. But I couldn’t just glance at this one. Paul’s book comes at a great time for me. I am staggered by the number of times I come across extremely obvious cases where a better digital adaptation would bring about superior customer satisfac- tion and brand loyalty. You see companies still battle with Omni-channel, in-store wi-fi, personalised product information, poor mobile presence, etc. One can think of these issues as just technical inefficiencies that will soon or later be overcome. Here is where Paul hits hard. He argues, that the Digital is fundamentally a cultural change. The hierarchical structure of (large) organisations doesn’t sit comfortably with close collaboration, flexibility, innovation, and safe environment to experiment new ideas. These are indeed typical of a friendly digital organization. This is the moot point. Yes, you can ‘fix’ some of your digital problems by bringing in a techie but this is a very short-sighted strategy. A digital company doesn’t fix—it fails forward at a pace you cannot imagine. The core problem with digital, faced by many large organizations, is that they were formed before the web existed. Their systems, processes, and (in many cases) people, are not configured to support it. This starts at the top of the organ- ization, with senior management failing to understand digital. I have enjoyed the pages where Paul astutely points out to how the traditional way of organizing teams, managing projects, collaboration among departments, etc. are no longer fit for purposes in the digital era. Digital, in his opinion, is a completely new way of thinking and working that challenges traditional practices (e.g. project rollouts, office environment, organizational charts, etc.) He argues that this is true given that the digital shift has empowered customers with more freedom in gathering relevant information about you, your products, and your competitors. Two friendly remarks. The book is mainly focussed on the web and how to enable corporations to plant the seed of change. Don’t expect any conversations on SEO, Marketing, mobile etc. Secondly, in more than a circumstance I had the feeling that what he was actually endorsing was not a consequence of being digital. For example, the responsibility assignment matrix (pp. 47-49) is something that I have seen in a good number of non-digital friendly organizations. Paul’s book is more a testament than a prophecy. If you work in a traditional or- ganization and you think you are an agent of change, by no means this book is for you. It will help you disseminate the good novel. Truth to be told, I don’t fall in that category though, but I fully enjoyed it. It is easy to read, informative, articu- late, and fun.
  • 4 DIGITAL DUALISM Back in 1999, I came across a book that didn’t change my life but got me thinking for awhile. The book is Being Digital, written by Nicholas Negroponte. Negroponte's main thesis is that while "world trade has traditionally consisted of exchanging atoms... the change from atoms to bits is irrevocable and unstoppable." Negroponte visualises a future where digital dominates our lives. Relevantly, this means that the future is “driven almost 100% by the ability of that company's product or services to be rendered in digital form .” Sounds familiar? Fast forward to 2011. Nathan Jurgenson coined the term “Digital Dualism” in a post he made on Cybergology. He took issue with people’s continuing use of the words “online” and “offline” to describe their experiences, particularly the implication that the online and the offline are separate realms. In his view, “augmented reality” fully characterises our new world . He goes on to say that “the digital and physical [are] increasingly meshed.” The digital and physical are part of one reality, have different properties, and interact. Eventually, as Negro- ponte posited, our future will be digitally textured. These statements may sound profound but I think they border the obvious as virtually everybody would agree with it. Additionally, terms like reality have a long history of philosophical thinking behind it and needs fur- ther qualification. But I want to build on what I see to be a valid point, namely, digital and physical are part of one reality. Nonetheless, I argue, a distinction is warranted. I am not a dualist, much less a Cartesian dualist who posited two separate modes of being, mind and matter. I believe, however, that there’s a special relationship between physical and digital, that is not a complete sepa- rateness nor a blind togetherness. In fact, human beings are naturally toolmakers who continue to build a world that is both technological and organic, that is at once natural and “human-built.” And that’s the crux of the matter. The physical world is more fundamental, vis à vis the temporal order (which is obvious) and the metaphysical order. The latter relates to the simple observation that Digital can’t create or bring to existence the Physical. This is not to devalue the importance of digital. More generally, I have a very positive look at how technology is shaping our life. To this regard, I wholeheartedly agree with philosopher Edward Feser who points out that technology “is the product of the practical intellect, the exercise of which per se helps perfect us (even if...circumstances can make technology, like other products of practical reason, evil).” These are just few general strokes. I will be dissecting the digital world in upcoming posts and newsletters. Un- til then take a look a these interesting articles:  Natham Jurgeson, Digital Dualism versus Augmented Reality  Nicholas Carr, Digital Dualism Denialism NEXT MONTH  The Digital divide in retail  Interview with Kate Koltunova about Social PIM  Review of “Converge”, an interesting book about how to transform business at the intersection of marketing and technology  More PIM posts coming up! DIGITAL REFLECTIONS