The Analog Corporation
In the early days of business, a company didn't require very much “tech” to succeed. Calculations were done on paper or using a mechanical calculator. Advertising was done through word of mouth or by using simple print or radio spots. Business was seemingly very simple. However, with analog, there were limits to how far a company could reach. Even multi-national corporations had limits as to how far they could grow.
In the 70's, 80's and into the 90's, computers became commonplace in business, but smaller companies could succeed without the latest technology. They could remain analog or did not need to move in and fully embrace the so-called digital revolution that was occurring. However, once the internet took off—suddenly things changed.
The analog company, though it may exist in name, is a dying breed. Firms that have not begun the transition to digital have likely found that it is hard to get ahead or even remain competitive. In the span of time between the early-1990's through the mid-2000's, the internet and cell phone technology moved from something that was a rarity to something that was a necessity. According to stats provided by liveinternetstats.com, In 1995, less than 1% of the world's population had internet access. Today (in 2016), that number has increased to over 40%. This number includes even third world countries as well as areas that do not have internet access—making it even more remarkable.
With more consumers becoming comfortable with computers, the internet and eventually mobile devices companies needed to move from analog methods to compete. The analog corporation is simply unable to succeed on a worldwide level. Digital has taken control.
The Digital Revolution
The digital revolution, which has also been called the third industrial revolution, is the changeover from mechanical and analog technology to digital electronics. Depending on what material you reference, this “revolution” began anywhere from the late 1950's to the mid 1970's. The computer is the main device that brought changes to industry, commerce and even in homes. The mass production of digital circuits, and later the shrinking of them, lead to the creation of the personal computer, cell phone and internet.
The digital revolution has brought more and more companies online, seen data of all types move from analog formats to digital. This includes things such as music—moving from analog technology like records to digital technology like compact discs. The move to digital formats is a very positive thing for many companies, government agencies and even the arts. By protecting documents, works of art and other items in a digital format it can be assured that they will be available in years or even centuries down the line for future generations to read or enjoy. This is one contribution that the digital revolution has made that can not be underestimated and will be appreciated by millions.
The “Revolution” As We Know it is Ending
While the digital information and devices we have are not likely to go anywhere in the near future, is it really a revolution any longer? A revolution signifies that something amazing is happening and changes are happening. But are changes actually occurring any more? After all—are there many large companies that haven't already “gone paperless”, created a website and discovered the benefits of connecting with customers and vendors using mobile technology? There aren't many. The revolution has reached its peak. While improvements will be made and it will be a good thing for business as a whole, It's time for the next big thing. The belief is that the next big thing is cognitive enterprise.
The Next Frontier: Cognitive Enterprise
So, as the digital revolution winds down, or at least turns into a digital standstill, what is the next frontier? It is all about cognitive enterprise. The companies that catch on to the goal quickly will be able to understand their customers, learn from data, identify patterns and even take on mundane tasks to make life easier while offering suggestions that ultimately serve the company's best interests. Think Apple's Siri or Amazon's Echo.
Cognitive Enterprise – What Is It?
For many, the term cognitive enterprise may be brand new. That's okay.
The fundamental distinction between cognitive enterprise from analog or digital is in the extensive use of data. While data is used today by businesses of all types, the sheer amount of data used, (Both “Big Data” and “personalized data”) is what will drive cognitive enterprise. As you will discover, not only do businesses that operate from a cognitive philosophy need data to succeed, they will naturally generate more data, leading to an endless cycle that feeds on itself—creating a self-sustaining ecosystem.
Data comes from many different sources. Companies usually already have data stored that has been collected from customers. Additionally, data can be purchased from third-party companies, such as Acxiom or ChoicePoint. This extra, purchased, data helps gather further insight into customer behavior and can be especially beneficial as a company is trying to get started or begin working in a new area. Another source of data can be obtained from smart devices (these are also known as IOT or the Internet of Things.) Data obtained from these means has the potential to offer even greater insights into customer behavior.
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