Gartner: digital businesses will sport opportunities in a matter of seconds
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Gartner: digital businesses will sport opportunities in a matter of seconds

The hallmark of a digital business will be the ability to spot opportunities that might span a matter of just seconds, according to Gartner, Inc. ( The research group introduced the concept of a "business moment" — a transient opportunity that is exploited dynamically — in 2013 and expects these moments to occur more and more frequently as enterprises migrate from today's world to the digital business world. 

Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds. It promises to usher in an unprecedented convergence of people, business and things that disrupts existing business models, even those born of the Internet and e-business eras. Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than seven billion people and businesses, and at least 30 billion devices, will be connected to the Internet. With people, businesses and things communicating, transacting and even negotiating with each other, a new world comes into being — the world of digital business. 

"Digital business will break down traditional barriers between industry segments, creating completely new value chains and new business opportunities that may not be filled by incumbent players," says Jorge Lopez, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "It will also challenge existing industry boundaries and challenge the dominance of leading players in an industry and cause them to rethink the businesses they are in. 

A digital business focuses on spotting new opportunities to drive revenue, and as such it represents a new frontier of growth and development for industry, as has been seen in past technological revolutions. It has implications for industry competition, business models, talent and risk. The Nexus of Forces — the convergence of social, mobile, information and cloud technologies — has set the stage for this digital revolution, according to Gartner. However, like other revolutions before it, digital business may well create a significant downside for those that don't move quickly enough, and will cause enterprises to rethink what business they're in. 

Business moments are specific transient opportunities that illustrate how people, businesses and the Internet of Things interact. They represent moments of untapped opportunity and competition that can rapidly change the dynamics across industries. Moments are very short in duration (even seconds or fractions of a second), depending on the nature of the opportunity.

They are interconnected with an enterprise's business model and business processes, all of which are being disrupted by digital technologies. They are not only customer "moments of truth" but also impact the entire organization. These moments are expected to occur more and more frequently as enterprises migrate to the digital business world. 

"In the context of digital business, a business moment is a brief everyday moment in time and the catalyst that sets in motion a series of events and actions involving a network of people, businesses and things that spans or crosses multiple industries and multiple ecosystems," says Don Scheibenreif, research vice president at Gartner. "These events and actions unleash a loose set of sequences of observe, orient, decide and act (OODA) loop activities where many processes are executed by many resources in many different companies. Moreover, one business moment may trigger or collide with any number of adjacent business moments." 

For example, a smart house could detect when a room has to be repainted and collaborates with the homeowner and the local retailer to identify, select and obtain the necessary supplies and services to get the room repainted. The retailer's system then solicits bids from painters on behalf of the consumer. Or a laundry machine may chime in when detergent is running low. 

Business moments are important, because they will force enterprises to rethink the role they play in a value stream. Business moments, by their very nature, illustrate a wide variety of possibilities and players and help companies envision and design new businesses that integrate people, businesses and things to do things not possible five years ago. The trademark of a digital business will be the ability to spot these opportunities, however fleeting. 

"CIOs, IT leaders and business leaders can use business moments to highlight digital business opportunities," says Scheibenreif. "Every industry has business moments that will be critical to an enterprise and to customers or citizens. These moments of opportunity and competition that lead to the gain or loss of a sale, or the transformation of an industry, can happen in an instant. The question is how will enterprises handle these momentary opportunities and challenges in the digital future."


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