IT Foresight

Current issue: Special digital edition (Part II)

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From retailers, to banks, to transport providers, companies depend on telecommunications networks to provide end customers with compelling online and mobile experiences designed to capture their interest and keep them coming back. Yet the industry’s own efforts to transform the way it interacts with retail customers to market, sell, and support its products and services, have lagged. It’s time for that to change: Operators must offer an integrated, omnichannel user experience — on the desktop, on mobile devices, on the phone, and in stores — providing access to a portfolio of new products and services designed to match the requirements of each customer. Success will require designing a strategy for creating the digital experiences that customers will expect three years from now, not today.
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Urbanization is one of the most important demographic forces affecting municipal governments, and it will remain so for the foreseeable future. Some 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. As a result, governments will have to provide services for more people, while also encouraging economic growth and implementing sustainable environmental practices. Through the creation of “digital cities,” municipalities can begin to use digitization to address these challenges, with advanced infrastructure and solutions to deliver better city services that meet the needs of residents.
Big data is driving gains for retailers that know how to use it. Established store chains that have long seen information technology as an operational support function, rather than a source of competitive advantage are being left behind. Customers today want more choices in pricing, products, and fulfillment than old-line retailers have ever provided, along with a seamless shopping experience across online, mobile, and physical sales channels. But traditional retailers still have an opportunity to reverse course if they substantially overhaul their retail IT organizations, both technologically and culturally. IT must expand its focus from back-end operations to the entire enterprise, and create end-to-end solutions that link every function in a digitally optimized business model.

In last month's issue

With the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, pharmaceutical companies have an opportunity to deliver a better experience for patients, improve health outcomes, and lower the cost of healthcare in the U.S., by using digital health technology — tools that bring advances in genomics and advances in digital technology together. Health solutions, such as Web portals, body sensors, and apps are becoming more and more popular with both patients and physicians, and the pharmaceutical industry can use its expertise to take these point solutions and turn them into a more holistic, and complete, digital health system.
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Digitization is changing the way cars are marketed and sold — social media, mobile technology, and independent online information sources are giving the consumer more decision-making power. But as many original equipment manufacturers have been slow to embrace new online channels, dealers have to deal with new rivals that are using digital marketing technology to their own profitable advantage. In order to compete, automakers and their dealers must join together to build first-class digital sales and marketing capabilities. Those that do will likely find themselves turning digitally minded consumers into loyal longtime customers.
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The newness of digital technology has left many financial services firms unaware of the data they have gathered — information about costs, profits, operations, supplier practices, and customer behavior. Strategy& estimates that the revenue from data commercialization will be US$175 billion in 2013 and will ramp up to $300 billion per year in the next three to five years across capital markets, commercial banking, consumer finance and banking, and insurance. In order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital age, financial services companies can choose from five basic business models for using data profitably and effectively — from improving current core business to offering entirely new products and services.