It’s not about the bucket…

Fasten your seatbelt. The digital revolution is just getting started.

As consumers, “digital” has already fundamentally changed the way we shop, learn, communicate, entertain ourselves and in some cases meet our significant others. Yet, less than 20 years ago, conventional wisdom assumed that people would never use their credit cards on the internet. Conventional wisdom was wrong. Most businesses are unprepared for the next wave of digital.

Our digital future is all about user experience through trusted, secure and “invisible” interaction. When buying fuel, why should the pump require a physical credit card? Your vehicle is unique and verifiably yours. Your phone is in close proximity to the pump and it can already make payments. The ingredients are all present and ready for action. The transaction can be automatic, effortless, secure, trusted, and… invisible.

It’s all about trust. It’s all about data. The new business landscape lives at the intersection of people, objects (“things”), location and specific events – or POLE. The traditional transaction becomes the invisible interaction. The foundation of the interaction is trust – trust that the right interaction occurred, trust in the information supporting it and trust that it was timely and secure. Every product from every industry must participate in a digital conversation mediated by a so-called smart contract. It’s no longer about slick apps or websites – the digital ecosystem is the “killer app”.

By its nature, the digital ecosystem requires flawless and timely digital participation. Amazon disrupted retail. Digital cameras disrupted Kodak. Netflix disrupted Blockbuster. Apple disrupted Nokia. Uber disrupted the taxi industry. You haven’t seen anything yet! Organisations must redefine their core business process around the concept of purpose and around the exploitation of trusted enterprise data in the context of POLE. Where does your company sit? Will you be the digital invader or the Blockbuster of your industry?

Preparation doesn’t require brain surgery or huge expense. Successful organisations deploy active data landscaping strategies, not weed management. It’s not about acquiring new big data technology, new enterprise warehouses or apps. These are simply buckets for data. To wash a car you need clean water, soap, a brush and a bucket. The important bits are the water, the soap and the brush. A bucket is required, but its size, shape and colour contribute little to the outcome. The building blocks for success are more fundamental.

It’s important to review the basic interactions you have with customers today and to contrast them with how you desire to interact tomorrow. Next, consider how your enterprise data supports those interactions. The gaps around entity resolution, data description, data quality and missing information quickly become apparent. From there, put in place an evolutionary, pragmatic, structured and agile approach to drive your digital transformation.

James Wilkinson is CEO of Entity Group (, a leading global provider of digital transformation services, helping organisations exploit their enterprise information. Read more in Entity’s forthcoming book The Data Delta – a practical guide to making sense of the digital economy.