I saw this 1986 photo of Steve Jobs by Doug Menuez.
“He is outlining what remains to be converted from analog to digital. Indeed, everything in the world — photos, film, music — that was not already digital by now, would soon be, as the digital revolution expanded.”
In 1986. he was way ahead of the world in digitizing stuff!
And you see the digital evolution of music continues 30 years later with waves of Walkmans, iPod/iTunes, DRM free better AAC quality codecs, the iPhone, Apple Match and now with streaming services like Spotify. In turn, it has led to a cottage industry of Sonos, Beats and so many other products that audiophiles have nurtured.
This is an important reminder at a time when every consultant and tech vendor is talking Digital Transformation.
Unfortunately, most of them focus on specific areas like social marketing or digital back office processes. That’s clearly needed but will have little impact unless companies make their products, services and business models digital. That in turn leads to a rethink of manufacturing – in my estimate, 20% of BOMs for smart products are now influenced more by Silicon Valley than by traditional industry suppliers. It may mean turning to contract manufacturers and design agencies the tech industry has used for a while now. It also leads to rethinking global supply chains.
I was pleased Karl-Heinz Streibich invited me to interview many digital pioneers for his book, The Digital Enterprise. As you can from the an extract from the table of contents below we talked to companies about smart products, digital business models, rethought channels and much more.
The other critical need is to think several steps ahead in waves. Digitization usually brings in newer competitors, many from outside your industry (think Whirlpool v. Samsung, Audi v. Google) and that typically leads to an acceleration of feature/function wars and rapid price changes as Moore’s Law plays its hand.
I like to cite the trajectory of GM’s OnStar telematics. With its navigation and emergency services, it was a significant differentiator for GM cars a decade ago. Then the world moved to Garmin and other handheld GPS units and to Google Maps on our smartphones. GM ended up repositioning OnStar via a rearview mirror and on an annual fee basis so even Toyota and Ford customers could avail of it. In the meantime, every automaker has started to offer their own version, even for entry-level cars.
The evolution of music described above is another example of how digitization accelerates change.
Digital Transformations can be exciting as hell. But if you listen too much to those narrowly focused consultants and vendors, it could be ERP redux. You will spend tons of money, and this time, you will do lots worse than just ending up with a bloated back office.