Intersecting Innovations Create Change

Jeff Woods

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I recently took part in a lively panel in New York City where we discussed the impact of the intersections among digital technologies. During the discussion, we uncovered one aspect of why second-generation digital disruptions like customer experiences driven by machine learning are so much larger than first-generation disruptions like e-commerce: The exponential technologies that underpin digital transformation—the cloud, mobility, analytics—have been deployed across vast portions of the economy. Everything is web enabled. Data is everywhere.

Second-generation innovations develop when you layer sensors, machine learning, and other digital technologies on top of the existing digital landscape and let human ingenuity create connections among them. This issue of Digitalist covers three aspects of these intersecting innovations.

Digitalist Magazine Q3 2017

Our cover story, “Unleash the Killer API,” examines how the application programming interface (API)—a mature component of software development—can be used to connect increasingly digitized services. Originally, application developers used APIs mainly to join different pieces of software to build a more complex application. Today, these APIs connect software, services, data, and—when sensors are used—physical assets. The intersection of conventional APIs, sensors, and data enable business platforms that are powerful enough to create unprecedented customer experiences and redefine competition across industries.

In “Infinite Personalization,” we explore the intersection of Big Data and machine learning facilitated by the mass digitization of customer sentiment. We have the ability to know what customers want even better than they do themselves, creating immense opportunities to deliver ever more personalized interactions, products, and services.

Navigating the changes wrought by these digital intersections puts tremendous pressure on enterprises. Our third feature, “The New DNA of Change,” probes the new skills that are required to keep up with digital transformation. Change no longer happens at a point in time; nor can it be managed as if it does. Rather, change is constant and iterative. The new change management toolbox includes practices such as mindfulness and design thinking to help people and enterprises continually adapt so they are better able to meet customers’ needs.

Finally, in this issue’s Boldly Digital column, “Only the Soft Survive,” we’re honored to have Jenny Dearborn, SAP senior vice president and chief learning officer, contribute her views about how soft skills—which today are treated dismissively—will be essential to thriving throughout our change-filled careers.

We hope these and the other stories in this issue of Digitalist enable you to navigate the intersecting innovations that are creating opportunities and change in your enterprise.

Jeff Woods
Editorial Director


About Jeff Woods

Jeff Woods is Chief Product Strategist, Products and Innovation at SAP.