Beyond DX: What’s ahead for the future of IT?
At first glance, disruptors like Airbnb and Uber came about because people became extremely comfortable transacting in a sharing economy.
Then along came the technology vendors touting digital transformation (DX) and how all these DX technologies like cloud, mobility, analytics and so on, are necessary to helping a company transform itself.
But how sustainable is digital transformation? It’s already proven to be not hype and there are many cases of companies using digital technologies to create new streams of revenue or at least become more efficient or productive or responsive or any combination of the three.
Some folks like Bernd Leukert, SAP Member of the Executive Board, Products & Innovation, believes it will ultimately be the winning strategy moving forward. He explained, “Never before in history, have individuals and companies wanted to own ‘certain’ assets. They just want to use it.”
Case in point is a German-based manufacturer of compressors that stopped selling and instead gave them for free to their users who never intended to own these equipment anyway.
“What they did is add a meter to measure the cubic metres of air that is used and customers pay according to this,” Leukert explained.
Disruptors being disrupted
Leukert also shared about another German-based company; this time in the automotive OEM industry; that have plans to offer ride-sharing services similar to Uber’s.
“This big German car OEM have established a digital business unit that intends to compete directly with Uber, with plans to pilot their service in one or two cities first,” he said.
The way this works differently is that drivers of this mobility solution need not own cars like Uber drivers need to. Leukert observed this is useful especially in big cities where people do not necessarily want to own vehicles because of the extra cost that comes with it including parking space and garages to keep cars.
He also shared that this car manufacturer plans to bundle other lifestyle services like dining at restaurants, together with its mobility service.
“They want to provide a mobility service and go beyond with an end-to-end experience, because there is a reason you need a car, which is to go somewhere.”
He revealed that SAP is in talks with the company to provide a digital platform in the car for passengers to access lifestyle services, and for the platform to monitor the car’s usage patterns, as well.
According to Leukert, the sharing economy will ultimately be the way to sell products and services, even between businesses.
“But is the sharing economy sustainable? I say yes, because habits and consumer behaviours are changing. And there are many examples of this in the B2B and B2C space.”
He opined that three dimensions have impact upon consumption habits – economy, society and environment. “The reason we can embrace the sharing economy now as an entire ecosystem is because technology and digital platforms allow us to address all three dimensions.”
This wasn’t possible before because of the concept of physical ownership of physical products.
Leukert gave the example of a fashion company that uses used plastic bottles as raw material to manufacture sports shirts. Described as a ‘winning strategy’ by Leukert, it addressed environmental and society concerns of ocean waste, and saved financial cost because of the free raw material which can simply be collected off beaches.
“There is a buzzword today called sustainability which is also usually part of a company’s agenda. It usually involves reducing carbon footprint and so on.
“If they are honest, in many of these cases the sustainability agenda focus is mainly on the economic aspect only… so it’s like putting lipstick on a pig,” Leukert said.