As “software eats the world”, in Marc Andreessen’s memorable phrase, it is starting to transform business fundamentals across a broad spectrum of industries that had largely avoided full-blown digital disruption, from manufacturing to agriculture, energy and finance to healthcare. Increasingly every business needs to think of itself as a data-driven, digitally-optimized software company, whose success will depend on digital mastery, generating vast amounts of data and analyzing it intelligently.
The shift to information technology, data, algorithms and smart analytics in traditional industries is likely to change how value and profit are created. Competition will no longer be won by the firm that makes the most aerodynamic vehicle or best drug, but instead by the one that uses data analytics to offer the best assistance and automation to drivers or figures out how to tailor its drugs to an individual patient’s genetic make-up.
Firms must figure out what are likely to be the sources of their competitive edge in these new data-driven marketplaces. They need to reassess their core competencies and business strategies. They may also require a company-wide change-management strategy, bringing in people with new skills and integrating them with existing staff, redesigning how the company engages with everyone from its supply-chain to customers.
In Chicago in February, The Economist’s Innovation Summit will gather leading thinkers and practitioners to explore the opportunities and challenges of making this transition. Economist editors will ask the searching questions as Fortune 500 CEOs, policymakers and disruptive entrepreneurs share their insights and strategies for successful digital transformation.
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