Are you ready for a zero distance world marked by ever-accelerating digital transformation? We have three main messages for people and companies that want to succeed: re-find who you are, learn the new ways of winning and become a digital machine.
You have 3 choices when it comes to disruption
Connecting machines destroys distance and time for businesses in the same way connecting people destroyed distance and time for families. A closeness will exist where a product never ever "has to leave home" anymore.
Continuous communication and updates will mean a company's whole product family will always be in touch and know how each other are feeling. Products will "feel" the same way we do as people. Products (and people) that are not connected will be orphans of a cruel world, if they are not already. For business, this means that old ways of governing and managing are no longer effective.
Companies have to embrace this change and embrace how it changes what they do. All successful businesses exist because they did something important. Unfortunately most have forgotten what that was. And most hide behind what they have become: efficient business machines that deliver the physical distribution of that original promise. Digital lays bare the original promise and opens it up for a digital re-invention. This re-invention either happens inside the company and the company grows, or it happens outside and the company is placed on the defensive.
In short, all businesses have three choices.
- Wait for disruption.
- Pick up the pieces after disruption becomes obvious.
Get on-demand control with industrialized unit economics
There is a new rule book for winning, and If you can understand it before disruption happens, you'll gain an unfair advantage on your competition. Following the new rules enables you to enjoy on-demand control while experiencing industrialized unit economics. Programmability is the business language that enables both. The leaders that adopt first, drive change in their markets while saving more money. The new ways of doing things are always cheaper.
The applications that will emerge from following this new rule book are going to be focused on industrial and society-critical businesses, with a great focus on data-centric processing, data governance, response times, scalability, and resilience. These applications will control many important aspects of our everyday lives, and they will need to work everywhere and inter-work with other data and other systems in real time, all while being trusted, secure, and safe from the perspective of each person, business, and country involved.
This is how telecommunications works, and in this context, data systems start to have very similar requirements as voice systems. They need to be open and interoperable while at the same time secure, safe, and trusted.
Data systems must obey the law of hyperscale
Data systems must also be able to cope with exponential usage demands, and to succeed, they must obey the law of a hyperscale system. Hyperscale enables either exponential capacity growth while maintaining linear cost or linear capacity growth while exponentially decreasing costs.
Today, radio systems obey such rules from the perspective of bandwidth, and public cloud providers do the same with respect to compute resources. The infrastructure in between both—the operator middle mile and enterprise IT—does not. The next-generation infrastructure needs to be obey the laws of hyperscale end to end, inheriting best practices from both telecom and public cloud. Ironically this is not as difficult as it would first appear, since many design principles (and experts) from large-scale telecom systems have been inherited by public cloud and design principles are converging in many areas (cooling, power, optics).
Public cloud has excelled from a centralized, compute-unit economics and programmability perspective. This leads to extremely high return on investment on digital assets. Telecom has excelled from a distributed, trusted, secure network-unit economics perspective. The future infrastructure needs to inherit both disciplines into one end-to-end infrastructure obeying all of the above leading attributes. In the future, it will not be clear where cloud ends and radio starts.
Never value innovation over discipline
One last thought: It is important to remember the importance of change but never replace discipline with innovation; both are required. Preparing for 5G requires the most-efficient and agile infrastructure and operating model to date. However, this will all remain a cost unless people, competence, process, and automation tools exist to enable discipline. A diligent process must be followed that is not driven by technology, but by continuous business KPIs and the desired customer experience.
One approach is to view the journey like a mountaineering expedition. You identify the summit, plan the route, and prepare for the ascent with appropriate training, tools, competence, and people. If you are carrying unnecessary load, this means you are using more time and more resources than necessary, endangering the expedition. But carrying too few supplies or not being prepared also increases risk.
Welcome to the zero distance world
To understand your current levels of fitness, take the initial test: “Take the Digital Maturity Test."
Then read in more depth about these idea in a new paper by Jason Hoffman and myself called: Future Digital - changing designs and minds
Welcome to the zero-distance world. As you move into digital, you go from watching Silicon Valley to being Silicon Valley.