Digital SWOT 2015: Don’t Redesign the Web, Redesign the World

Digital SWOT 2015: Don’t Redesign the Web, Redesign the World

At Digital SWOT last year I encouraged the audience to carry the lessons learned with digital technologies at the edge of the business into its heart, deploying measurement, analytics and data-driven decision making in operations. So many organisations are increasingly sophisticated in the way they attract new customers using digital tools but fail to carry that sophistication into their day-to-day operations.

At this year’s event I took that message a stage further. With the ready availability and falling skill barriers around hardware, digital change no longer needs to be limited to the software arena. Organisations should be looking at the weaknesses in their interactions with the physical world and seeing how innovative technologies can be applied and developed inside the organisation, using platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone and others — we’re currently testing the Pure MIPS Creator CI20 and soon to test the Gemalto Cinterion development board.

For many of these platforms there are libraries of code out there and piles of other people’s projects that can be rapidly hacked together to perform incredible functions. For Project Canary, a distributed wireless air quality sensor and demonstration project for the capabilities of Republic of Things, we hacked together a prototype in just two hours for around £15. Sure, it was ugly and hacky, but it worked and proved the concept.

If people can accept the idea that nearly anyone can start hacking with hardware these days, the next question becomes, ‘What problem do we tackle?’ Answering this question formed the second half of my talk, which I used to introduce the audience, in very quickfire fashion, to our Intersectionsprocess.

Intersections is a way of looking at how future tech trends will intersect (hence the name) with the pressure points in any industry, in order to divine what the most important trends to watch might be. I believe it would serve equally well as a means of deciding on which aspects of the business might be worth addressing with technology innovation.

The process is simple enough, though we will be publishing full templates for other people to follow at some point, to make it even simpler.

The first step is to understand why we focus on tech-driven trends when looking at the future. This comes down to the idea that in a specific geography (the UK) over a specific time frame (maximum 20 years) we believe the only change driver from the classic PESTLE set that will be exponential rather than linear, is technology.

The second step is to break technology down into a series of macro trends: diversity, agility, performance, ubiquity, and scale. This is a topic for another post — we’ve updated our list since the last one here.

The third step is to understand the pressure points in your organisation, both internal, and external.

The fourth step is to look for intersections between the macro trends and the pressure points. There are likely to be many.

Finally we come back to our exponential factor to filter the results, discarding anything that might have a linear-scaled effect on the organisation and focusing on those with an exponential effect — for example, a 10x increase/reduction in delivery costs.

You can find the full slide deck from the event here — just use your arrow keys to browse through the slides:

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This article is by Tom Cheesewright. This post forms part of the Future of Business series. For more posts on this subject, visit the Future of Business page.

Tom Cheesewright

Futurist speaker Tom Cheesewright is one of the UK's leading commentators on technology and tomorrow. Tom has worked with a huge range of organisations across a variety of markets, to help them to see a clear vision of tomorrow, share that vision and respond with agility. Tom draws on his experience to create original, compelling talks that are keyed to the experience of the audience but which surprise and shock with unexpected facts and examples.

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