Friday 18 December 2015

Digital Transformation with 3D printing.

How many of you remember the dot matrix printers of 1980s? 

Nobody could have thought then, that we will have 3D printers to print anything from consumer goods to military/space equipment.

Simply put 3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing. 3D printers work like inkjet printers, but instead of ink they build 3D objects by adding layer upon layer of the material.

Today 3D printing uses variety of materials like Sugar, Nylon, human cells, metallic powder etc. to print anything.
  • Medical : Bionic ear, Skin grafts, prosthetic limbs
  • Military : weapon and arms manufacturing
  • Engineering : various spare parts, cell phone displays, fuel injectors
  • Manufacturing : items can be printed as required, JIT inventory
  • Food : Edible object printing

Today there are 3D printing service website like Shapeways, Ponoko and Sculpteo that can very inexpensively print and deliver an object from a digital file that you simply upload to their website. You can even sell your 3D designs on their website.

MakerBot's Thingiverse is a thriving design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3D printable things.

ASDA is giving away 3d miniature figures of you or your loved ones as marketing gimmick.

Argos, a leading Digital retailer is working to improve customer experience with 3D printed customisable jewelry.

3D printing, artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, sensor technology and nanotechnology are examples that are radically going to change the way we do business.

Research is going on for 4D printing in which 3D printed objects can change the shape or colors dynamically, as shown in the movie Transformers.

With new materials being introduced, 3D printing can drastically impact our life. Some products may save our lives, others may extend lives and some brings ease to our daily activities!!

Sunday 13 December 2015

Beacons - the future of Consumer engagement !!

Imagine customer is looking at smart LED TV in the electronic shop's window, and he/she gets a text with 10% off on that same TV, immediately purchases it & then pays automatically using online account. 

Or even have you noticed, when you walk near Apple store, you get their notifications on your smartphone?

This is possible today as part of Digital Transformation with Beacon technology.

It is revolutionizing the customer experience with in-store analytics, proximity marketing, indoor navigation and contact less payments.

Beacons are small devices working on tiny Bluetooth low energy (BLE) radio signal that can be received and interpreted by an app on smartphones. This can work within 50-70 meters of a beacon device. No scanning necessary. In addition, this system can pinpoint where your customer is in the store micro location and push specific information for them.

Big players in Beacon technology are Estimote & Apple, while major retailers like Macys, Taget, JC Penney are using beacons for Cross-Sell.

Beacons will boost the Retail business in many ways:
  • Bring shoppers into the store by targeting them with right offers as they walk past retailer’s windows.  This is called proximity marketing.
  • Engage your customers and get them feel excited about visiting your store
  • Navigate the customers to the tailored products
  • Notify your customers about new products at the right time and place
  • Use the real time data of how much time customers are spending in each part of the store which can be used for optimizing the in-store experience
  • Use customer’s purchase history and wish list items to come up with product-specific offers when they approach that item
  • Allow contact less payments at POS, on smartphones so customers don’t have stand in queues

Today Beacons have gone beyond Retail.
  • SK Telecom and Seoul National University Bundang Hospital are using Smart beacons to provide round-the-clock patient information and navigation to its 6,000 daily patients
  • Starwood hotels are running a pilot to replace room keys with beacons
  • American Airliines is using beacons to improve connections with customers at the airports

With use of Bigdata Analytics, Retailers can create a better shopping experience and offer superior customer service and better customer retention.

It is not distant, when as soon as a customer walks in to the store, your sales staff will know their name, what product categories they shop most, the items they browsed last time but didn’t purchase and what their spending habits are to give them personalized attention.

Saturday 5 December 2015

APIs revolution in our lives…

Today we are living on our smartphone. There is an app for everything. Share a photo or music, call a cab, order food, post a status, check-in at any location or track a flight.

Our lives are revolving around all such apps and we are using them fluently without even noticing what goes behind this. In reality to do all this, the smartphone has to connect with service provider’s application servers via APIs. Many businesses are using APIs to deliver the services we require today.

In the age of digital transformation, APIs enable access to functionality and data from existing applications to the new digital business application helping in transformation. They are changing the way businesses interact with customers and partners with speed and agility.

Forrester had mentioned in their predictions 2016 reports that APIs and open platforms will take center stage.

API (Application Programming Interface) are the set of functions or procedures to access third party services.

Here are some well knows examples of APIs in our day to day life:
  • Google Maps APIs used in location based apps like Yelp, Zomato
  • Add a Facebook “Like” button on your site
  • Click to “Share” an article on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest
  • Billions of goods are sold every day on Amazon & eBay via APIs
  • We visit Klout to see your social media score calculated from your digital footprint
  • Use Instagram or Flickr to post your vacation photos
  • Use apps like Uber, paytm, Waze, WeatherNow, for various activities all over the day
  • Buffer & Hootsuite like schedulers using APIs for posting on multiple social media accounts

Citibank follows the API first approach for digital transformation & had launched Citi Mobile Challenge, a virtual accelerator that invites developers from around the world to build innovative solutions.

MasterCard is another example of a financial services institution that has embarked on an API-based approach to digital transformation. With its Developer Zone portal and open APIs.

Some of the industry leaders in the APIs management services are apigee, Layer 7, SOA Software and IBM API Management.

I Love APIs 2015 was the world’s largest event dedicated to APIs and digital business strategy for developers, IT experts, and business strategists.

Today most of the developers use REST or SOAP APIs.

While these APIs are developed, it’s extremely important to build the required security for proper use:
  • Authentication – Making sure that user is who he/she says
  • Authorization – makes sure that user has access to the information
  • Encryption – scrambling the information to avoid misuse
  • Signature – insures information integrity

Today APIs influence how we interact with internet in various ways.

Investing in APIs for digital transformation is the sure way to succeed, by making APIs a priority, and integrating them into ecommerce platforms thereby enhancing the customer experience

Sunday 29 November 2015

Machine Learning – a key to Digital Transformation !!!

Today whole economy is changing into Digital economy and disrupting all the respective markets and industries. Businesses are shifting from selling physical things to digital things.

Just to take an example of Music industry – in old days we had to go to store to buy LP records, then came cassettes and CDs which were then disrupted due to introduction of MP3 format in 1990s. Later came IPod/IPhone and people could carry their music with them. Spotify further changed this to streaming music, so now you don’t have to download music at all.

The song collection on Spotify is so large that you will need a lifetime to listen to all of them. That is where Spotify started using machine learning, to identify and predict what a person would like to listen next.

The main driver for this change was “Customer behavior”. With flexibility of anytime, anywhere any information, customers became more aware of the products than manufacturers. Companies need to understand this and recognize the trends, to predict customer behavior.

With exponential growth in data from people and things, a key to survival is to use machine learning & make that data more meaningful, more relevant to enrich customer experience.

It took a while for phones to become smart phones.  But now machines can become smarter machines faster, by combining the Internet of Things, machine learning, and data insights, with addition of people and devices.

In order to understand all the data coming our way, machine learning algorithms will be required. These are various techniques that allowed machine to learn on its own. Algorithms will also significantly influence the Internet of Things. Without them, the IoT will not even become possible! Gartner predicts that 25 billion connected devices will be in use by 2020.  All these devices will be connected to business processes as well as billions of smartphones. This will generate massive amounts of data that need to be analyzed to understand what’s going on. This can only be achieved with algorithms, which can take automatic action at the right moment.

Here are some of the examples how machine learning is helping businesses in Digital Transformation:

  • Airbnb uses Aerosolve Machine Learning package to help owners set a price for rental based on features of home, time of year, demand etc.
  • Apple Siri, Google Now, Microsoft Cortana like digital personal assistants are making use of Machine Learning for speech recognition to become smarter & creative, knowing more about you and your needs
  • By connecting the sensors and systems in each of their elevators to the cloud, ThyssenKrupp, a Garman Elevator Manufacturer, has been able to move beyond preventative maintenance to offer predictive and preemptive services, a service that has not been possible before in the elevator industry.
  • Today after 56 years even Barbie doll is going to become interactive and internet connected, that can talk to children and respond to their questions.
At the end Machine Learning helps make sense of digital tide, which we are generating and helping the humanity do better.

Saturday 12 September 2015

Wearable Technology: Bringing Digital Disruption to our Lives !!

Do you remember Captain James Kirk using his wrist watch to communicate with the crew of the Starship Enterprise back in 1966?

Today, almost after 50 years, it has finally become a reality!

Digital disruption is occurring in all business functions all around the world. Wearables are becoming mainstream and disrupting almost every industry, with the biggest impact being seen in customer service, healthcare and manufacturing.

Wearables currently stand at the stage where smartphones were back in 2007. Apple had just launched iPhone and the App store, but nobody could envision the vast range of applications that would soon become available. At that point, the iPhone was just considered to be a better phone, a music repository and a way to browse the web.

That is now a thing of the past.

Today, wearables come in various forms, like smart watches, health trackers, Google Glass, interactive clothing, gesture controllers and list goes on. With wearables, we can enter into an exciting new realm of augmented reality, with an enhanced experience of what we see, hear and touch.

Insurers are using wearables like Google Glass to record claims information in the field in order to process them faster.

In healthcare, implanted bio sensors can capture and transmit health data, from heart rate and blood oxygen levels, to glucose sensors — to help identify risks and make diagnoses.

Smart watches can alert users when their blood sugar is low or if they have an irregular heartbeat. With wearables, anyone can carry a personal trainer on their body at all times.

Here are some other examples of wearables in our lives today:

ADAMM is a wearable technology that provides a complete solution for managing your asthma. It collects data on cough counting, respiration and heart rate, along with medication reminders provided in an app or online portal for accessing your daily status from anywhere.

If you or someone you know suffers from lower back pain, Valedo may be a solution. The device attaches to a person’s back and uses smart sensors that communicate with a companion app to guide the user through a series of therapeutic exercises.

Helius by Proteus Digital Health is the first-ever digestible microchip, and is used to detect when a patient takes their medication. The data is transmitted to a companion app, enabling doctors and caregivers to tell if the person is taking their prescribed medicines at the correct time.

Physicians at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital used Google Glass to perform a surgery to help remove a tumor and reconstruct an abdominal wall. Some hospitals are hoping to improve training by using wearable cameras to stream and record live surgeries as seen through the eyes of a surgeon.

Disney has developed the wearable MagicBand, a wrist band capable of monitoring visitors and collecting data about their behavior in theme parks. It also enables visitors to pay for food or merchandise, access hotel rooms, manage tickets, and skip the lines at popular attractions.

Google’s smart contact lens prototype helps measure blood glucose levels in tears for people with diabetes.

Nymi is a biometric security wristband that could someday replace all your passwords and keys.

These wearables have the potential to make our lives healthy, more secure, and more convenient — but there are a number of challenges which need to be resolved soon.

Sooner or later, all of us are identified by the data we generate, and wearables represent a quantum leap in the type and quantity of data collected — which is both an interesting and a scary proposition. 

As wearables become more mainstream, consumers need to be aware of what data is shared, which third parties have access to it, and what they will do with that information.

Thursday 19 March 2015

Are You Becoming a Digital Dinosaur?

Digital disruption is happening everywhere you look. It is impacting businesses of any size, in any industry, market, and geography. 

Digital technology is changing the way we socialize, communicate, research, learn and work.

If organizations do not adapt to this fast-changing paradigm, then extinction may be closer than they think!

Digital technologies overwhelmed Kodak, a true titan of the film business. Other big brands like Borders, Circuit City and Blockbuster suffered the same fate. The dominance of Blackberry and Nokia was overshadowed by Apple and Android smartphones.

According to a report entitled “The Future of Business is Digital by Nigel Fenwick of Forrester Research, to survive this digital extinction, businesses must integrate digital practices into their entire business models, from customer experience to internal operations.

There are only a handful of leaders who have successfully managed to turn the tables on these disruptive forces and breathe new life into their companies.

  • Nike transformed from a sneaker company to a digital sports licensing company.
  • The Sprint “Ninja” training program encourages employee engagement and enables outreach to thousands of customers they don’t hear from informal channels, or can’t respond to through social media.
  • AT&T is entering the home security market with its Digital Life service, enabling customers to remotely control everything in the home, from alarms to lights to door locks.
  • Starbucks overcame a commodity product like coffee by designing a unique digital experience for customers via where customers can share, discuss and vote on ideas to make their digital experience with Starbucks richer. They now have a bank of 200,000+ ideas to implement from.

Many businesses get stuck on enhancing efficiency and decreasing costs, as opposed to taking risks to innovate and boost agility. 

To avoid digital extinction, successful organizations have adopted the following broad steps:

  • Understand the online landscape and build customer-friendly websites
  • Utilize search engine optimization (SEO) techniques for quick hits to websites
  • Train employees and customer-facing stakeholders to use all forms of social media to engage customers
  • Adopt mobile-enablement in every customer interaction
  • Use Big Data analytics for better customer insights and action
  • Modernize their legacy systems to address real time on demand data requests 

Today’s consumer expects easy access to information anytime, anywhere, on any device. To successfully deliver this digital expectation, enterprises must understand their customers as people, not transactions.

A great example of this deeper understanding is Starwood hotels, who analyzed customer data and launched nine separate brands, segmented by affordability ranging from value brands like “Four Points by Sheraton” and “Westin” to its “Luxury Collection” and “St. Regis” properties.

This demonstrates that although customers may not be able to completely control their journey, businesses need to carefully map the customer journey and be present where they are. In addition, digital transformation provides more real-time engagement platforms to acquire, retain, and grow consumers than traditional models.

Enterprises that adapt, evolve and exploit this new digital reality will thrive, while those that do not, will be lost to the sands of time like Dinosaur !!

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