Digital transformation involves the process of transforming a business from one state to another. It is also about time. An important part of this transformation is speeding up the cadence of business and information movement along the time continuum from human, digital and finally to future-time. Businesses today must be capable of competing in all three of these cadences on the time continuum simultaneously.
What are the time cadences on the time continuum?
1. Human-time – time cadence governed by our physical, biological and mental limitations as humans and the regulatory environments that we work within.
2. Digital-time – time cadence supported by the digital and mobile technologies used including computers, software applications and network transmission speeds.
3. Future-time – time cadence stretching into the future and only limited by the lack of available data, computing power and the sophistication of algorithms used to analyze, predict, model, project, forecast and recommend.
Let’s pause a moment and talk about interaction points before moving on. These are the points where information is exchanged, decisions are made, and business transactions take place. The human-time cadence on the continuum works when the interaction points are between humans, but not when competing with interaction points that are digital. Human-time cadences include coffee breaks, training sessions, sick leave, 40-hour work weeks, holidays and stay-at-home pandemic restrictions. The human-time cadence cannot support things like real-time route navigation, mobile search queries, 24×7 shopping or mobile payment processing, etc. Humans are not robots.
The goal of digital-time is to reach speeds as close to real-time as possible by removing friction and optimizing all the technologies involved to provide near instant access to information. In this model, humans are considered friction – liabilities that only slow information down.
Future-time is even faster than digital-time. It is the ability to recognize and anticipate needs beyond real-time into the future. Let me give you an example.
A few years ago I consulted with a large global automotive safety system manufacturer. We worked to transform their traditional safety systems to operate in future-time. We designed a solution that integrated multiple data sources including traffic accident and insurance information, plus real-time weather and traffic information to automatically prepare the vehicle and driver for the road ahead (i.e. future). We combined historical data with anticipated future conditions and routes to provide additional value and a competitive advantages today.
Future-time enables us to harvest value from the future today. It works in a time beyond real-time. This is the evolutionary nirvana of digital systems. Businesses that have not digitally transformed in a manner that can harvest value today from the future have no possibility of competing there.