The digital tsunami

Even minus the consultancy business, McKinsey would be a sizeable software company on its own. 

 

Ford likes to think that it makes sophisticated computers on wheels, not just cars.  It has begun to load its cars with wifi, sensors and software to run all mechanical functions. Now it wants to network all its vehicles to open a steady stream of information on user experience. 

 

Citibank has gone nearly paperless in Japan and shrunk 154 business processes to 12. It wants to extend this model to other branches in Asia. It works with start-ups and crowd sources ideas. When you think of a bank, ‘a physical building with a large safe may’ come to your mind. Citi wants to rewire your imagination; think of a bank, a virtually entity should float in.

DreamWorks, the animation studio, does not do hand drawings anymore. It is a complete digital operator, which is working with Intel and HP to write new software to streamline its production and help its artists see their output in real time. It wants to sell its technology to companies in industries as disparate as oil exploration and aircraft design.


A recent Forbes article details many amazing stories of brick and mortar companies in traditional industries switching on to their digital avatars successfully. The article notes that advances in software and hardware have triggered a data explosion. Detailed information about your business is available to everyone – customers, competitors and employees. Companies have to harness this data to stay agile and competitive. This process is turning out to be so engaging, long-drawn and fundamentally transformative, as Forbes says, “…regardless of (the) industry your company is now a software company, and pretending that it’s not spells serious peril.”  

 

The conventional distinction between old-world traditional businesses and the new-age software start ups is collapsing.  Everyone is a software company now, like it or not.

 

Tech Guru Mark Andreessen says software is eating the world. The maturing and convergence of various computing technologies, the microprocessor, the PC and the Internet have created an indispensable digital platform for companies, he says. 

 
In many cases it has taken a near-death experience to trigger digital reinvention. After the movie ‘Sinbad’ flopped, DreamWorks could not afford to continue to hand-draw its pictures. The meltdown prompted Citibank to change its approach to work.

The reinvention is never easy. DreamWorks had to fire a third of its work force and re-train others. But smart companies do not wait for a storm to move. Even workers have to be alert to the digital wave; what ever your line of work or the industry, you will have to be as tech savvy as a programmer to survive in the emerging world.

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