Ali Baba's Magic: 'Open Sesame!' And Digital Transformation

Sandeep Raut

Remember the childhood story, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”?

“Open, sesame!” was the magical phrase that the poor woodcutter Ali Baba uttered to open the door of a secret cave in which 40 thieves had hidden bags of gold and treasure. These words, along with the power of his voice, gave him access to that fortune and changed his life forever.

We are on the cusp of an “Open, sesame!” moment that promises to change our lives through digital transformation. It’s a fact that our lives are becoming more digital. We buy, work, store information, and even communicate with other people through media and digital platforms. I never owned a laptop until the age of 35, whereas my daughters have always had laptops in the house, and they learned how to use them much earlier than I did.

Whether we like it or not, digital transformation is creating a new era. It is changing how we do things and how we live, and many of us are already fully immersed into it. It also offers us a great opportunity to be more effective, efficient, fast, and agile.

As consumers, we expect ultra-connected experiences. Whether in-store, on the web, or via a mobile or wearable device, we want all our interactions to be simple, effortless, relevant, and lightning-fast.

The Internet of Things has already started to change our lives. For example, connected cars may know your preferred temperature at home and adjust it accordingly. A mobile app is connected with all smart home devices to alert you of anything suspicious happening while you are away. It can send a list of items you need when you approach a grocery store. Drones enable you to tour properties to help choose the right one.

To reach 50 million users, radio took 38 years. Google took 6 years, and Google+ just 88 days. The Pokémon Go game hit 50 million users in just 19 days!

Our lives have become a collection of mobile moments in which we use mobile devices like magic wands, to get what we need, wherever and whenever we need it. We use our smartphones to do online banking, post family photos, check in with social media, send e-mails and text messages, search for restaurants, and book movies. Oh, and also to make the occasional phone call.

We are alerted of our appointments and meetings even before we’ve had breakfast. A weather app updates us on the day’s forecast. To ease our commute, the GPS in our car alerts us on traffic and suggests alternative routes to get us to work on time.

We have also become more health-conscious, thanks to wearable devices like Apple Watch and ctivity trackers like Fit Bit, Jawbone, Google’s smart contact lenses, etc. Wearables like Oculus Rift VR enable us to enter into the exciting new realm of augmented reality, which enhances what we see, hear, and touch.

Big Data analytics is an ideal entry to digital transformation. It is like turning the lights on in a dark room: Every interaction we have with businesses—including point-of-sale transaction details, loyalty card information, surveys, and social media postings to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more—provides deep insight into our behavior, attitudes, and opinions, which businesses can leverage to improve relationships via hyper-personalization.

Voila! Life is simplified.

Ali Baba’s “Open sesame!” may have come from a childhood fable, but digital transformation is reality – and it is changing everything.

For more about the power of digital transformation in retail, see Small And Midsize Retailers’ Digital Strategy Is All About The Shopper.