The fast-changing, uncertain and ambiguous environments that organisations operate in today, requires organisations to re-think all their internal business processes and customer touch points. In addition, due to the availability of emerging (information) technologies such as big data, blockchain and artificial intelligence, it has become easier for startups to compete with existing organisations. Often these startups are more flexible and agile than Fortune 1000 companies and they can become a significant threat if not paid attention to. Therefore, focusing purely on the day-to-day operation is simply not enough and organisations have to become innovative and adaptive to change if they wish to remain competitive.
The Paradigm Shift
The key characteristic of these new startups is that they are, at its core, a data company, regardless of the product or service they offer. Companies such as Google, Facebook, WeChat or Amazon have long understood the importance of data, but, unfortunately, many large organisations still struggle with this paradigm shift. I often tell organisations that viewing the company as a data company will completely change all processes and customer touchpoints. This is a difficult change but required if they want to be able to compete with startups who have been doing this from the beginning.
Therefore, a car company should no longer see itself as a car manufacturer, but as a software company that is in the business of helping move people from A to B. It should look at how the company can do so in the most reliable, comfortable and safe way. Whether it produces cars, self-flying taxis or develops an Uber-like app are then questions that can be asked. The same goes for, for example, a bank. They are not a financial institution, but a data company that enables people to store money and make transactions safely. Whether this is done using a cryptocurrency or as a mobile-only bank are then questions that can be asked. Nowadays, any company, regardless of the industry, should see itself as a data company.
When seeing an organisation as a data company, it allows you to remove any inhibitors that prevent the business from delivering the product or service in the most efficient, effective and customer-friendly way. After all, in the digital world, anything is possible, although it might take some time to figure it out.
Big Data, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence
Therefore, I sincerely believe that the organisation of the future is a data organisation. The three key technologies fuelling this shift are big data, blockchain and artificial intelligence: Big data will empower consumers and employees, resulting in open strategy and a better understanding of the ambiguous and uncertain environment thanks to advanced analytics. Blockchain will enable peer-to-peer collaboration where trust is created using cryptography and decisions are automated thanks to smart contracts. And, artificial intelligence allows for new and different levels of interactions among human and artificial actors. Consequently, organisations in the not too distant future will get involved in numerous interactions among humans and machines, resulting in complex strategies and unexpected technical, ethical and social implications. Organisations that are most capable of incorporating data and implementing data-related technologies will stand the best chance to remain competitive in this future. How this exactly will work, is the topic if my PhD that I am currently doing at the University of Technology, Sydney.
Within my research, I investigate how big data, blockchain and artificial intelligence are changing interactions and collaboration among actors (stakeholders) involved and how these emerging information technologies will create the organisation of tomorrow. My research consists of three studies. In the first study, I investigate how big data can be used to gain a better understanding of the changing organisational environment. The second study looks at how blockchain can result in new, unprecedented, forms of organisational design and in the third study, I seek to answer how organisations can ensure that AI performs as planned and how harm to those actors involved can be minimised. Altogether, my research should offer a blueprint for how to build the organisation of tomorrow using big data (analytics), blockchain and artificial intelligence.
Of course, we are still far away before every organisation is a data organisation. However, for me, it is inevitable that we are heading this way. Even small companies should investigate how they can apply big data, blockchain and artificial intelligence within their processes. Also, or should I say especially, governments should investigate how to become a data government. The advantages that this offers for citizens are tremendous, as is shown by the government of Estonia who has been a data government for years.
Therefore, I would advise every organisation to explore how they can turn their organisations into a data organisation. If you need help with this, do not hesitate to contact me.