Digital Enterprise #6: A new form of enterprise unfolded – tech and business trends combined

Written for FutureEnterprise collaboratively by NTUA (Iosif Alvertis) and EPFL (Gianluigi Viscusi).
We have discussed already in previous posts how the recognized technological trends are implemented in practice, or how they are about to transform 5 traditional industries in Europe. We have even presented how someone may work to become a new form of enterprise, and we have given a detailed description of the different business components that comprise a digital enterprise (D3.1.2), which with the proper management it may evolve into a new form of enterprise which seeks for new business models.
Thus the main questions, which this article is going to answer, are: How can a new form of enterprise be formed if it is based on the upcoming technological trends? How does everything get together to form a digitalized organization that may move faster from business model to business model?
Future Enterprise
Figure 1 shows a variation of the “cell-form” of a digital enterprise, unfolded to show how different technological and business trends are combined in order to generate the digital enterprise of the future.
Digital Workspace (with light blue color) consists of new concepts and the supporting infrastructures. In more detail:

  • Modern digital workspaces tend to support the co-creation and collaboration between their employees, either in the office or remotely. Every interaction that is made lately in the workspace requires high levels of digital skills, meaning that people who are not familiar or not trained in digital technologies may not be able to adapt in future job placements. Such behaviors will be driven by enterprise gamification systems that will possibly help train and motivate employees. The concept of the future workspace is concluded with the enterprise mobile apps, which may apply both on mobile device but also on wearable devices; with all these applications employees and employers will be able to measure their performance, build better behaviors and interact more easily with their digital environment.
  • Digital infrastructure will support this new status quo and such a new mentality for digital workspaces. Automated operations are going to eliminate human, physical effort on standardized operations (e.g. logistics); enterprise 3D printing will reduce the cost of prototyping and will decrease the costs of on-demand and personalized production; cloud computing and API platforms have already started to reduce the costs of IT and make developing software easier, more scalable and cheaper; machine intelligence will offer most effective algorithms, improve the analysis of data and visual signals, and facilitate decisions; quantum computing will increase cryptography power and will make unsolvable problems easier to calculate and simulate, allowing companies to optimize their operations and decisions; prescriptive analytics will take all this power of algorithms and machine intelligence, and combine them with existing and new types of analytics in order to provide better predictions and estimations on the future, and allow managers to make better decisions based on understable information; extreme big data are already here, and about to change the way we analyze huge, unstructured and real-time data to give meaning on them; NLP and Q&A will reduce the pain of interaction with upcoming technologies, either internally into the workspace or during the interactions with the customers; finally, crowdsourcing will make it easier to collect feedback from external resources, either structured through propriatery applications or unstructured through social media platforms which hold much valuable, but not easily extracted information.

Digital Borders & Digital Environment (with red color) define the endpoints of interaction of a digital enterprise with its external environment. For simplicity, we organize them in input endpoints, output endpoints and the relative connections:

  • Output endpoints have to do with various technology and concepts that increase the speed at which the organization delivers its output, as well as the way they interact with other organizations: web of things allows a digital organization to not only establish programmable connections with devices in their premises, but together with the Blockchain technology allows them to build more trustful connections with their customers; automated delivery will bring physical products more easily to the customers; collaborations and clusters will increase with similar digital enterprises in order to form more flexible and scalable business models, without the need to change the internal operations or change any endpoint (i.e. the other organization is expected to have an interoperability endpoint); and finally, the IPR & licening component will manage not only the intellectual rights of the outcomes, but will also be able to monitor the proper, licensed usage of the services and the products of the organization.
  • Input endpoints include the concepts and technologies that make it easier for an organization to receive physical and digital input (mainly). Thus, modern organizations will mostly require: customization endpoints will allow the organization to better collect the options of their customers, and transform those requirements into actions; social analytics will allow them to understand the social changes, the emerging trends and the power of the social networks on influencing the masses; open data will be a valuable input from publicly available data that describe a broader social and urban life context; authorization & trust will control, calculate and validate who has access, physically and digitally, in specific layers of the organization; cyber, digital risk & governance will predict and simulate possible risks on the environment of the organization, and will allow the management to properly manage the authorization framework; finally, the interoperability endpoint will facilitate the connection with external system and information, as well as validate the status of the internal systems and their compliance with standards and best practices.
  • The connections of digitalized organizations are expected to be easier and more valuable: the intelligent city will allow the organization to use the autonomous transportation infrastructure to move around their physical assets, while the wireless connections will allow easier integration of web of things into the city, and the real-time feedback for the urban context of the organization and its customers; the intelligent factory, an expected digitalized future enterprise, will be easily integrated and will facilite real-time and customized production; the intelligent home will increase the speed at which digital products are delivered, will facilitate their consumption, and will build more trustful business models with the customers, as it will be easier to charge them based on usage, and to lease solutions to them; last but not least, the collaboration and clustering with similar enterprises of the future will allow the construction and the constant evolution of new networks of digital enterprises.

Digital Innovations (with purple color) refer to a playbook that enterprises of the future will be able to use in order to remain competitive and to explore new markets. Provided that those organizations are digitalized, in a matter of worskpace and endpoints, they will be in the position to constantly experiment with their business models. Enterprises of the future will be able to explore new business models by builidng a digital – or a digitally controlled – supply chain, by trying to digitalize their processes, by creating digital marketplaces to sell not only digital products but also services on enhanced offerings (i.e. physical products with services delivered after-sale to create a more powerful user experience and even create new revenues), manage their finance digitally, and at the end experimenting on transforming physicalproducts into digital, virtual experiences.
Digital Strategy (with orange color) cannot be enabled unless a digital organization is present. Referring to this term, we don’t refer to actually a digital asset or technology, but actually on the business and corporate strategy of enterprises of the future which are going to be boosted because of the new technologies; they will be supported by systems which are better connected and more deeply integrated through real-time analysis, while the amount of data will grow and computational power adequate to support most types of analyses. Taking into consideration, as well, the playbook of available innovations, it is a matter of the managers to run simulations, decide, measure and adopt into feedback loops, in order to apply more effective strategies on all the different parts of their business. To a certain extent, some decisions may even be taken automatically, based on the changes that the organization senses in its environment. For example, customer strategy may change if social changes show a change in preferences, or an emerging trend, in order to capture a new segment. Brand management may require launching a new brand, in order to capture the new identified segment without disrupting the old business. Pricing for this segment may become dynamic based on the analytics of sales, change automatically on a bidding marketplace and inform the existing customers that have subscription or per usage plans. New channels may be enabled, to advertise and sale on this new segment, and a new partnership may be needed with a new supplier and a retailer to complete this new business model. Looking for the alternatives, searching for the trust of the organization, suggesting M&As and checking any legal implications may be part of all the future Business Intelligence, IT solutions (which are not there yet).
Digital Leadership (with green color) requires further steps in relation to the digital strategy for its realization. New models will need to support leaders of the future, in order to monitor how differnt parts of the business apply, translate them into behaviors that in time build a culture, and define the critical points where such behaviors break or need to change. Based on them, simulations for changing the organization may be needed. We need to mention that a future enterprise may need to be more agile, change their operations faster in order to enable new business models; such fast changes may require faster hiring, even firing some workforce, or at least the development of more agile and horizontal skills on the employees. Driving people into constant changes may be risky and definitely needs the proper management rules and tools, as well as the change in mindset in order to be effective. We have seen how many big enterprises have collapsed during the digital era because they couldn’t adapt (e.g. Kodak), thus we expect more challenges to emerge in that business area.