I can remember it vividly: The year was 1995, and I was working at a start up in Silicon Valley. What was the Internet like back then? It was certainly not ubiquitous, as it is today. At that point, the Internet was still fledgling—although it was exploding—and ecommerce was starting to take off. There was no YouTube, no Google, and no Facebook.
In 1995, the Yahoo.com domain was registered, Amazon.com and Craigslist.org launched, and eBay was founded. We were quickly realizing the Internet could provide us with opportunities and experiences that were unimaginable only a few years prior. There were some early-adopter companies, with websites up and running and open for business. And there were many enterprises taking things slower. Was this Internet thing just a fad? What can we do with it? Will people actually buy goods and services online, and use their credit cards over a computer? Is this safe? Secure? Is this for everyone, or just the Silicon Valley tech crowd?
Fast forward to today, when we cannot imagine a world without connectivity and information, online commerce, streaming music and video—all at our fingertips, available in milliseconds. Many of the companies that hesitated back in the 1990s are not around today. And since we know that history often repeats itself, we again find ourselves at another massive disruptive crossroads.
There are already 15 billion connected things. That number could rise to 75 billion—some say 200 billion—by 2019, and there will be three times the Internet traffic by that date. By 2020, it is predicted that there will be 5 terabytes of data generated per person. The predictions back in the 1990s seemed lofty at the time, but they’ve been overshot massively!
What does this mean for the world we live in? How do companies prepare for this digital revolution? The answer is closer than you think, and it’s simple: Act now—do not hesitate. We have seen the success of early innovators capitalizing on this digital world—companies like Uber and Airbnb that flipped business models upside down, focusing first on the new customer experience through technology, providing simplicity for their users.
But not all companies have the luxury of starting from scratch. Many have established infrastructure, business models, and processes that are hard to shift and adapt. The truth is, all companies—big, small; established, startup; public, private—need to look at how technology can enable their strategy much faster and drive more powerful business outcomes. They need to re-evaluate existing business models and technology because the world is changing yet again in a big way. Many predict this digital business transition will be even more sweeping than the revolution of the Internet, the second wave of the Internet, IoT, Industrial Internet, and IoE—and I am a believer.
So where are you on your digital journey? Are you in “wait and see” mode? Someone once told me that in the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take and the decisions we waited too long to make. Now is your chance to jump in and capitalize on this digital transformation. You won’t regret it.
Stay tuned for my next blogs, where I’ll talk about what options are available; what assets and partnerships you might be overlooking; how to overcome some of the hype obstacles; and how to bring IT and technology not just to boardroom-level conversations but to every aspect of your business.