“Computing is not about computers anymore. It is about living,” Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT Media Lab, wrote in his fascinating 1996 book Being Digital.
That was more than 20 years ago. In the book, Negroponte predicted today’s world of digital communities, connected machines, and wearable computing. Clearly, the concept of “digital” is not new. So why is it only in the last few years that companies have focused on becoming digital to drive their business?
We used to take real-world concepts and abstract them into computer equivalents. Think of business ledgers, customer records, supplier records, and employee processes moving from paper-based to electronic. For the most part, businesses kept doing what they did best, and technology simply enabled them to run better.
People, companies, and things have become increasingly interconnected these last few years through the digital advancements of phones, networks, and sensors. Add the advantage of the cloud, which gives companies the agility to innovate faster, and you have a powerful combination. Now, scalable technologies challenge more traditional ways of doing business.
These so-called digital natives include the familiar companies that disrupt taxi and lodging businesses. They go beyond mere replication of paper processes to take full advantage of today’s connected digital world, serving up new business models, enhancing engagement with customers, and rethinking business processes in innovative ways.
If the last few years are any indication, this wave of digital native transformation will affect companies in every industry. To remain competitive, businesses must drive their business through software innovation or risk getting disrupted. This is the essence of digital business today.
So how can a business prepare itself for this inevitable change? At SAP, we work with companies to consider their mission-critical business processes as the digital core of the business. Then we surround this digital core with an innovation layer that can quickly respond to ever-changing business realities. We call this intelligently connecting people, things, and businesses.
Software-driven companies bring value to market faster than ever before without worrying about the design, availability, and administration of IT infrastructure or databases. Many of these companies turn to cloud platforms to drive this necessary innovation.