Mobile, Cloud computing, Smartphone Apps, 4G, M2M, the Internet of Things, Generation Y – we have had to adjust our thinking and behaviour to all sorts of new technological terminology in recent times. The thing is, when you sit down and look at them all together, they pretty much fall under one umbrella expression – digital innovation.
Innovation as a word tends to get thrown about all around the place in business, but in the IT industry it has real tangible meaning. Technological advancements tend to be about genuinely disruptive trends which come along and change the game, that really transform the ways we have been used to doing things. Without digital innovation we might have stopped at broadband ADSL connections and decided that version of ‘being online’ would suffice. As it is, technology companies and entrepreneurs have kept on pushing the envelope, finding out first what was possible, then developing it, and often only then discovering where it could have a big impact.
The impact of continuing digital innovation cannot be overstated. Traditional business models have quickly become outdated, social platforms are now massively influential, knowledge has effectively become a commodity and data has increased rapidly in value – and this is really only the beginning.
Digital trends driving digital change
Right at the vanguard of digital innovation is the individual. In the early days of technology the trends tended to be set by manufacturers in terms of what they were able to design and produce. Today the end-user is the enabler, and the consumer is often more tech-savvy than the company.
The rise of digitisation can be felt in so many places. Consider Machine to Machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT) as a starting point – connected cars, smart homes and connected consumer electronics are all set to become the norm. Digital currencies like Bitcoin have gone mainstream.
Data is at the core of this technological, cultural and social shift. We now create and utilize data in almost mind-numbing amounts – consider that there were estimated to be around 183 billion emails sent per dayin 2013, and that Twitter users send over 500 million tweets per day. All this data is informing the way companies operate, with analytics tools helping them to change the way they plan, develop and take to market new products and services.
The knock-on effect of digital innovation on commerce in general can be felt in the way that borders no longer seem relevant. The online nature of business and consumers going mobile means that trade is anywhere and everywhere – in a world of no borders, international expansion becomes easier than ever. The restrictions that existed pre-digital no longer apply. So once again we come to the disruptive nature of technology, how it always changes the game – where once organizations and industries thought capital-first and needed CAPEX in place to begin ambitious expansion plans, today digitally-enabled business models mean they can source and engage with customers in entirely new, cost-effective ways.
Every aspect of modern life
Here is where I really enjoy evaluating digital innovation, seeing where it has impacted modern living – because the answer is ‘everywhere’. Consider how we work today – mobile. How we consume entertainment, such as video and music – mobile, streamed, High Definition, using state of the art Bluetooth and mobile enabled devices connected to wireless HiFi sound systems with full-bodied sound. When exercising, our fitness regimes can be tracked, analysed and improved by mobile devices connected to apps on our smartphones. Digital innovation affects and informs so much of what we do and gives us more control over it too.
No sign of slowing – only growing
The incredible speed of digital innovation is in evidence all around us. Five years ago the best HD TVs on the market had screen resolutions of 1080 x 1920 – today that is the resolution of a five-inch screen smartphone. Wearable technology used to be the preserve of science-fiction movies, but today is a reality – sales of wearable tech are predicted to hit 125 million devices by 2017, as wearable experiences similar innovation-powered growth to that of the mobile apps market did.
Looking back to the birth of smartphone apps, they came along and grew in popularity at an incredible pace. Product development in the digital space is dynamic and app developers do not wait around – so software is evolving fast and constantly. And this is all being powered by end-user demand – the digital consumer today wants it their way, wants it to work fast and mobile, and wants it now. It is this imperative that is forcing the IT industry to go at such a pace, to innovate all the time and always be looking for that next killer app or must-have device.
The real world impact and what’s next
Digital innovation is now simply part of life. It powers much of our daily routine and impacts economically too – it is estimated that $10 to $15 trillion growth in GDP is generated by technology innovation around the world. In 2014 and beyond it will continue to enhance industries like health, education, transport and more. The future really is now.