During a recent business trip, I used Uber a few times, each time testing a different level of the service. As a consumer, it was an interesting experiment. As an executive focused on technology, it reminded me of the impact of moving the intelligence – and power – closer to consumers.
Uber disrupted the traditional cab industry with an app and drivers using their personal cars. Users can see a photo of the driver, his location and estimated time of arrival.
So often when people talk about innovation, it’s focused on something completely new – like the television or personal computer were decades ago.
Yet in recent years, the truly innovative ideas are not focusing on creating a new product, but rather getting close to the customer and delivering what they’re really looking for. I recently heard it explained as “moving intelligence to the edge.” This is one of the key steps to driving innovation. It alone has led to a series of major disruptions in the technology world over the past two decades.
Here’s a look at how organizations have moved intelligence to the edge and the results:
Swiss watches once dominated the retail market, but were completely caught off guard when the first LED lit watch came out and the eventual reliance on smartphones to tell time. In a short period of time, watches went from being a necessary device to tell time to an occasional fashion statement to the recent re-emergence that provides users a computer on their wrist, like the Apple Watch.
Digital photography replaced taking, processing and physically placing photos into photo albums to bring the intelligence to the edge. Kodak had been a mainstay in the market for decades and then totally missed the opportunity of getting the product closer to the customer. Bankruptcy ensued. Today, apps continue to emerge to give more power over photography to the every day user. It’s easier than ever to take and share a photo.
- Movies and Music
Netflix made movie rentals a click away, leading to the demise of Blockbuster and countless other movie rental stores. iTunes and the others that have followed allow users to download a song, an entire album or “build their own album” without ever walking into a retailer. The power is closer to the customer.
Moving intelligence to the edge becomes a way of thinking and making decisions in high-performing organizations. At Marco, we have a Client Advisory Group for our Managed IT Services to challenge us to think differently, better understand what clients are looking for and move our intelligence in this area to the edge.
One of the ways we have done this at Marco is implementing technology that detects when toner is low in a client’s print device and automatically sends a request to our warehouse for shipment through our Managed Print Services. That way our clients have the toner they need before they run out.
How can you move intelligence to the edge in your organization? How can you move decision-making to your customers and give them more power? They are questions worth asking constantly in your organization.