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Guest view: Unlocking paths to corporate growth

Nick Taylor, ASEAN Technology Lead, Accenture | Sept. 9, 2014
As Digital comes of age, customer markets are being remade

One of them is Osakidetza, the public health system in the Basque Region of Spain, which is using Microsoft Kinect devices to enable telemedicine treatment of chronic patients. Using the Kinect devices, patients are given new ways to experience medical care and physical therapists can offer remote consultations and quantifiably gauge progress. Therapy sessions can be more frequent, more targeted and shorter, thus reducing costs, improving outcomes and reducing patients' recovery times.

GM originally released its OnStar connected car service to provide access to emergency services, vehicle diagnostics and directions. A little more than a year ago, it formed a partnership with peer-to-peer car sharing start-up RelayRides. Users can now use this service to rent their vehicles, setting the rental price and allowing lessees to use a mobile app to reserve the car and even unlock and lock the door.

As life-saving, cost-reducing digital applications—from home healthcare monitoring to the use of electronic medical recordsga—in traction across the entire healthcare spectrum, it's easy to see how digital technology is expanding traditional healthcare into a broader market that is digitally contested by companies ranging from industries as diverse as software, entertainment and specialist engineering.

We're also seeing major shifts in the way traditional companies are doing business as they become more digitally enabled themselves. In addition to offering its customers many online buying and service options, 95-year-old British grocery giant TESCO bought a majority stake two years ago in the UK's largest video streaming service, blinkbox, and now offers customers movies on demand and other home entertainment services. And in 2012, TESCO began selling customers tablets following its acquisition of digital book platform provider Mobcast.

These companies are doing two things. First, they are embedding digital technology within every aspect of the business, connecting the company with digitally-enabled suppliers and customers—everyone who touches, buys or services the company's products. And, they are opening themselves up to new flexible ventures and partnerships with other industry sectors. The digital enablement of companies and supply chains facilitates this cross-sector collaboration.

It has been said that recent waves of technology are not as fundamental as those in preceding decades, such as the mobile phone or the Internet. I dispute that. In fact, today's convergence of existing technologies and the ability to harness large volumes of data are having a transformative effect. We are beginning to see that as some companies struggle for their very survival, others enjoy new leases of life.

In some ways, 'Big is the Next Big Thing.' Large companies are going digital in big ways, moving from being digitally disrupted to become the digital disrupters. No longer are they reacting primarily to changes brought on by start-ups or technology giants like Facebook and Google. Now they are the ones incorporating digital technologies, innovating in surprising ways. Large companies are driving disruption in their own industries, even entering new ones. As a result, we will see entire industry sectors reform and customer markets being remade. And the companies that succeed will be those that not only implement new technologies, but demonstrate the courage to reinvent themselves and the products and services they offer.


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