In 2015 now, digitalization has finally reached the masses. A broad range of applications have made it to the markets. New technologies have become applicable to a large amount of businesses this year. Trends started to become reality, providing first hand feedback from the masses and boosting the development in a tremendous way. The digital age is there and these are the features:
Moore’s law still proved to be valid in 2015. Demands for storage and computational power are constantly raising. While the consumers started to move into the cloud for storing personal data a while ago, business application still did hard.
Latest in 2015 the point has been reached for many businesses, where further investments into an own infrastructure does not pay off anymore.
Virtual Machines, Micro Services, Container Management via Docker received major intention as they are drivers for cloud solution. They make solutions independent of specific infrastructure and allow roll-outs on arbitrary scale based on standard plots.
The industry has received a point now, where IT is moving away from technology department into a service department. Providers like Amazon and IBM have developed public cloud services tailored towards the need of enterprise businesses. This allows companies to move from own data centers into the hybrid cloud, where they gradually replace expensive server farms by cloud services.
You want to have a proof? Looking only at Amazon, their cloud service AWS grew by 80% from last year, with now more than 1 Million active enterprise customers, making it a $7.3 Billion business. Or to cite from the Time magazine: Amazon’s Secret Weapon Is Making Money Like Crazy.
While I was doing my annual tax declaration on my laptop for many years now, this year it was the first time I have not been restricted to a specific device anymore. Rather than delivering executable for several platforms, the whole application has moved to the web and is available from many different devices now. Since data is stored in the cloud now, it can be accessed and processed from almost every place.
Since the first appearance of the Apple iPhone the definition of mobility has changed a lot. It took some time until service providers followed up on the plenty of possibilities. While specific apps have been developed, content optimized for mobile, now everything is going to be device agnostic. Current discussions about omni-channel marketing are showing, that mobility does not imply a distraction of channels. It implies the need for a unified access.
In 2015 most web sites have become responsive – means they adapt to the device the consumer is using at that moment of usage. More and more applications, irrespective of personal or business context, are accessible from arbitrary devices. Sales Managers start managing their customer relations on the go via tablets or mobile phones. Banks are offering access to accounts and financial plans via apps. Videos can be watched on any device and even be streamed on local devices. Location is an attribute, not an service anymore.
In 2015 Google asked web designer to update web pages towards responsive design, as “mobile-friendly” would become an important factor for the ranking of search results.
For the start of 2015 Google had announced to stop selling Glass. It should have been the start into a new are of wearables. As we know, the expected break through has to be postponed as too many issues forced Google to retreat from the market. But it showed the huge interest in wearable solutions.
Consumer accepted that one would have to start smaller, before the next big things would happen. Activity Tracker and Smart Watches took benefit from it and experienced a boom in 2015. They reduced the focus on the personal experience of customers. Instead of trying to enhance the whole world with an virtual layer – the approach that Google Glass took – they have helped to make the personal information immanent visible. A first step, but important steps into the world of connected personal and digital experiences.
In the meantime others – like Sony – are working on professional applications for specific industries. The ambitions of such projects are a bit lower, as they can focus on dedicated problems and robust solutions. The results are promising and will be important steps towards a broader range of applications. And Google would not be Google if they would not come up with a new approach which will work at that time.
The market research company IDC forecasts the worldwide Wearables market to grow 173.3% in 2015 with 72.1 Million Units to be Shipped.
Honestly, IoT is still a big hype. Before IoT becomes mainstream, it will still take some time. Anyhow, 2015 was a breakthrough for applications of IoT, showing the potential of the digital age.
When Salesforce was doing its World Tour this year, one of the head-liners was a German company, Koenig & Bauer. This company started to equip their product – industrial printers – with an internet interface. It allowed them to do continuous system diagnosis without any human interaction. As a result they start to offer service packages to clients, whenever the performance of a machine decreases to an amount, that the business of the client is significantly affected. From the data, which is collected, RoI calculations are done to create business cases. This is making it simple for the client to decide for a service package. IoT offers a classical win-win situation, which immediately pays off for both.
While remote service for industrial printers is only one show case, many more industries still look for meaningful applications of IoT. Besides that kind of individual success stories, standardization proves to be difficult. The appealing show case of connected cars requires industrial standards. Otherwise BMW is talking to BMW, Ford to Ford, and Tesla to Tesla. Ferrari could have some doubts that in this case IoT investments will be worth it.
It will be important that more applications will follow up. Also consumers will have to perceive benefits. Home automation can be one of the drivers, where surveillance systems, heating, and washing machines start to talk to each other to reduce costs and make our homes a more comfortable place. IoT thereby might not be the big bang. But it will be an necessary building block to make digitalization come true.
2016 – Digital Age Preview
While 2015 has been the year, where digitalization reached the masses, the masses now will have to accommodate to what they perceive. The show cases will help to envision the ideas of digital solutions. But they are only the entry point into the new world. Being involved, the masses will be asked to create new ideas and visions. This will be the driver for new fields of application and the new turbo boost for the industry. New opportunities will drive change. The digital age is here and 2016 will be exciting!