The digital economy is driven by a confluence of disruptive, integrated technology prerequisites namely Cloud, IoT, Sensors, AI, Automation, Blockchain, Cybersecurity, and 3D Printing which are creating breakthroughs in the enterprise landscape and redefining how organizations operate. These technologies form the prerequisites for Digital Singularity – the point where human experience and technological omnipresence converge, leading to new innovations which define the new economy. These new innovations and technological solutions called the Four Pillars of Digital Singularity – Hyperconvergence, Digital Moments, Augmented Reality, and Digital Twins are quickly emerging, with some in a nascent stage while others on the verge of breakthroughs.
The first, foundational pillar of Digital Singularity is Hyperconvergence – the combination of multiple technologies to augment the original technology creating something smart, something exceptional. Consider for example, the evolution of a watch to a ‘smart’ watch as the convergence of technologies redefined its functionalities and enabled seamless integration into our daily lives. Since the 1700s, watches have just been able to tell the time. As time progressed, the abilities and functionalities of watches have evolved into the now ‘smart’ watch. By connecting a watch to the Internet and sensors (convergence of technologies), its purpose has shifted far beyond what early clock builders could have imagined. Now, it has the ability to sync with our calendar, manage our communications, and even collect data on our heart rate and movements throughout each day. Additionally, a running shoe is no longer defined by its ability to protect our feet as we go jogging in the park. With a sensor in its sole and Wi-Fi, it becomes a device to monitor our exercise and well-being.
HYPERCONVERGENCE BRINGS ABOUT EXPONENTIAL OPPORTUNITIES
Hyperconvergence is the seamless merging of two or more independent technologies, which may have different, distinct uses, to create something with a new purpose that is greater than the original technologies could ever have had by themselves. The simple convergence of common technologies gives birth to a completely new device with advanced capabilities and functions. These new forms fundamentally change how we have used and viewed them for generations and now have a greater purpose. Combining the Technology Prerequisites with existing technology brings about the exponential opportunity and growth Hyperconvergence provides. All our traditional and emerging technologies presents limitless opportunities for Hyperconvergence when merged with the right technologies, with these technologies rapidly growing, driven by the power of data. With Hyperconvergence, there is the occurrence of a ‘multiplier’ effect that extends beyond the technologies themselves. This multiplier effect can lead to quantitative (cost savings and time reductions) and qualitative (consumer experience, customer satisfaction) benefits ensuring overall improvements in the quality of life.
HYPERCONVERGENCE IS DISRUPTING INDUSTRY VERTICALS
Hyperconvergence is impacting all industry verticals, shifting the consumer mindset from traditional goods and services with little technology applications to disruptive, hyperconverged products enabling improvements in our daily lives. Retail, high-tech, telecommunications, energy, utilities, manufacturing, healthcare, travel and transportation are all verticals which have integrated a convergence of technologies into their products and service offerings. Traditional items have now become something exceptional—something smart that can operate in an interactive and autonomous manner.
HYPERCONVERGENCE IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS
One of the most commonly and daily used hyperconverged product is mobile phones, evolving from its ability to send and receive calls/ text messages, to virtually performing all the tasks as a computer. Today’s mobile phones are full of sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes, barometers and other technology that can be enabled to hyperconverge any activity or repeatable process and provide data to others that can be multiplied. They have the ability to send information remotely – which means they are coordinating the real-time geographic coordinates and location of an object. This technology is already being used to help manage traffic congestion, to remember where you have parked your vehicle and even helps businesses decide where to launch stores or offices.
HYPERCONVERGENCE IN UTILITIES
Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats provide an interesting example of the difference Hyperconvergence can make. These devices can allow us to do more than just check and control the temperature in our homes with a phone app—there is that multiplier effect at work that can affect the entire grid, and the consumers and companies that are part of it. If you “opt in” with your device, it can now be connected to the national grid, which permits it to share data it collects about your power usage with your local utility. The power company could end up utilizing this data to develop analytics of usage patterns to predict surges and prevent power outages. Your thermostat could be programmed to support your offpeak and on-peak use in a manner that reduces your electricity consumption and could even double capacity without adding a single watt of energy use, all by rerouting power.
The device could also connect with other IoT devices to provide long-term analytics on the smart grid and highlight areas where additional infrastructure needs to be built. Different technologies—a $5 Wi-Fi extender, the cloud, and a $60 thermostat—now combine to produce a smart-enabled way to analyze and manage regional power consumption. This device is no longer a thermostat; it has become an energy-monitoring tool to support the optimization of regional energy consumption. Many surprising and extraordinary innovations are possible when we take off-the-shelf equipment and apply ingenuity.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR BUSINESS
If you are wondering how all this applies to you and your business, think of it this way: companies that do not focus on how to adopt the Technology Pillars in their business plans, as their competitors will, could soon find themselves falling behind the curve in this Digital Age as we head toward Singularity. Technology is continuing to disrupt many business verticals with traditional brick-and-mortar retail businesses sliding towards irrelevance, especially those not adopting new technologies.
To remain competitive, companies should think like disruptors, investing in innovations and reinvention processes that drive them forward to defend against any and all technology upstarts. Anything which has hyperconverged is more efficient, and able to provide solutions, utilities and services that were heretofore unimaginable. The resulting technology is immensely more productive and interactive with customers and helps to accelerate decision making by weeding out inefficiencies. Such new efficiencies increase the reach of supply chains, better connecting customers, manufacturers and retailers. The information we can obtain by hyperconverging traditional technologies presents countless opportunities, and if they are not doing so already, your competitors will be using this technology to drive sales, revenue, and new client business.
One thing is clear: adopting a data- and technology-driven model is one way to avoid obsolescence. Hyperconvergence makes technology disruption a distinct possibility for everyone. But if you do not start adapting to new forms of technology, your business may not even be around to see the dawn of Singularity or have a chance to participate in the new, emerging digital economy.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Kevin Parikh is the Global CEO and Senior Partner of Avasant and the Chairman of the Avasant Foundation. He is widely acknowledged as a global thought leader, futurist, innovator and expert on digital business strategies, strategic planning and negotiation of strategic partnerships.
Swapnil Bhatnagar is the Research Director of Avasant. He has large experience in setting up high performing research teams, cross-border operations management, product development and emerging technology advisory.