Nicholas J. Webb’s third book, Über-Connectivity: The Future of Business Strategy is slated for release in Spring 2014.[/caption]Historically, organizations have viewed engagement, insights, and connectivity as separate strategic initiatives. When new connection technologies began to emerge, they were viewed in a similar separated manner as nothing more than advertising and promotional tools, or new ways to reach new customers and markets. This was a restricted approach because its perspective was focused externally, absent of internal applications. Ultimately, this was an authoritarian philosophy and the principal enterprise defect of past organizations. This was Simplex Connectivity.
Application Programming Interface (API), Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), mobile applications, Influencing Social Networks (ISN), Enterprise Social Networks (ESN), Netnography, the Internet of Things (IoT), and of course the Internet are just a few examples of new connection technology trends. Each is all about delivering superior returns on strategic initiatives through engagement, insights, and connectivity. Malcom DeLeo, Ph.D. described these trends as the Means, Modes and Venues of hyper connectivity. As they become more sophisticated, so does their application. Now each trend is a thread in the new web of connectivity. When skillfully woven together, these trends replace Simplex Connectivity and create Über-Connectivity–a tapestry of hyper connectivity is presently driving the future of Enterprise Strategy.
Today, enterprises who engage in Über-Connectivity understand that marketing and promotion is only one of the numerous ways in which this new megatrend will drive enterprise and market success. Leveraging Über-Connectivity will ultimately give organizations the ability to deliver improved value to customers, build revenues, manage cost, supply chain, regulatory compliance and all other strategic goals. And we are already starting to see this impact.
Studies are showing that organizations that use ESN, combined with innovation governance and infrastructure, achieve far better returns on strategic initiatives. By 2016, most large organizations will have an ESN that leverages game mechanics with socialization. Über-Connected Enterprises also significantly increase the value they deliver to partners and customers through APIs. In fact, APIs are so central to an organization’s success, they have now become the foundation on which the best organizations build their enterprise strategy.
Über-Connectivity is even driving the evolution of interfacing because it mandates speed and simplicity. This has been best demonstrated by mobile technology. Over the past five years, we have moved from typing–the initial installment into the connected grid was through typing on a desktop computer–to touching, thanks to mobile technology. Über-connected enterprises will develop layered and dynamic value focusing on value added touching. What value does touching add? Just look at Instagram’s success. Instagram’s increase in popularity had little to do with improved functionality and a lot to do with its mobile-centric touch interface. Mobile interfaces are the final wave of this trend that will move us towards our most intuitive communication means, talking. The talking interface is quickly overcoming the technological hurdles that will ultimately make it the interface of the future. Just look at the iPhone’s Siri and Xbox One.
But Über-Connectivity doesn’t stop there. Masters of Über-Connectivity will be able to leverage the digital grid to drive open innovation, crowdsourcing, vendor collaboration, and far better insights. The old days of developing technologies in a research and development department are rapidly becoming archaic. And sticking with these outdated strategies will leave you at a serious disadvantage.
Another example of Über-Connectivity’s power is demonstrated by 3D printers and laser scanners. They have reached price points that now make them viable home appliances. The recently introduced Makerbot fifth-generation printers require virtually no technical skills and represent the beginning of an accelerating trend. In the next 36 months, 3D printers will include self-leveling build platforms and cartridge-based media. This trend is extremely important as physical things have now become part of the Über-Connected phenomenon. Consumers will be able to press a button on their wirelessly connected device and select from hundreds of thousands of free and low-cost objects to print on their home printer. Low-cost laser scanning already exists today and it allows anyone to essentially make photocopies of physical objects. As pseudo-metallic, elastomerics, and component integration come into play in many industries, products will become obsolete.
Learning to leverage these various tech trends with an Enterprise level strategic focus provides unlimited opportunities for revenue growth and strategic success. To sprint ahead of the competition, here are the five most important enterprise trends for 2014 through 2016 and what you should do to get started.
1. Über-Connectivity will become the foundation to Enterprise Strategy
The Means, Modes, and Venues that drive Über-Connectivity, Engagement, Insights, and Connectivity will transition from a set of strategic initiatives to a foundation that all enterprise strategies are built upon. Revisit your enterprise strategy by building it on top of an Über-Connectivity foundation.
2. APIs will be essential for success
The iceberg analogy has been used historically to describe the fact that most APIs live inside the enterprise firewall. The “tip of the iceberg” speaks to the fact that most APIs are not public. Although there are many predictions about the growth of APIs and their importance to enterprise success, most are understated. Develop a core competency in connectivity to leverage the amazing power of the connective tissue of APIs.
3. 3D printing and scanning will rapidly accelerate
The overwhelming majority of music, books, and videos are consumed as digital objects. We will see a rapid acceleration of 3D printing and scanning. This will result in many products and distribution channels becoming obsolete. The market will soften for physical objects and strengthen for dynamic and layered designs that can be printed by users at will. Identify ways of developing dynamic and blended value in your technologies so as not to be destroyed by low-cost 3D printed objects that compete with your products. New models will emerge including blended value options where certain components are made available free to users and other components are sold to the consumers.
4. Über-Connectivity will drive innovation
Crowdsourcing and open innovation have been around for nearly a decade now. The true enterprise benefits of these powerful connecting trends have lagged for two reasons: a risk-centric view of open connection and a lack of a connected infrastructure. Über-Connectivity now provides the infrastructure necessary to drive better consumer insights, vendor partnering, and time-to-market. Adopt an Über-Connected strategy that drives internal collaborative innovation leveraging ESNs and external collaboration leveraging APIs, the social web and open digital grid platforms.
5. Über-Connectivity will be a Core Competency
As organizations, we cannot develop and deploy trends that we do not understand. We must understand how Über-Connectivity drives departmental strategic goals and how to leverage the “connection tools.” The Über-Connected marketplace mandates that organizations develop a core competency in Über-Connectivity. Revisit your enterprise strategy to identify how Über-Connectivity will drive better returns on all strategic initiatives. This may also require training and outside consulting to build the necessary internal skill sets. Choose your connection tool partners carefully as they are critical in building the infrastructure necessary to grow, thrive, and prosper in the Über-Connected marketplace.
Über-Connectivity’s ultimate power lies in its ability to unite Enterprise Strategy both internally and externally in ways that have never before been possible. Learning more about Über-Connectivity and the newest connection technology is the first step towards market domination and superior strategic returns.
Nicholas J. Webb is a world-renowned business futurist and innovation thought leader. Webb is the author of The Innovation Playbook and The Digital Innovation Playbook. His third book, Über-Connectivity: The Future of Business Strategy is slated for release in Spring 2014. He is also a successful inventor with a wide range of patented technologies ranging from one of the world’s smallest medical implants to consumer and industrial products.
Webb is also the inventor of the popular Hanz line of educational toys. He has been awarded over 35 Patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Webb has launched hundreds of technologies in his 25-year career. He currently provides business and innovation strategy consulting to a wide range of clients, ranging from small startups to Fortune 500 companies.
For more information on Nicholas J. Webb, please visit: https://thesweeneyagency.com/speakers/Nicholas-J.-Webb