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January 26, 2017

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What is Digital?

By Sean Murphy

What is digital?

I was asked a few days ago by a colleague what was different about "digital." Didn't we just mean, technology, but with the latest buzzword...

I was taken aback by the question - wondering if my colleague had missed the obvious emergence of new services, products, business models, etc. that are enabled by technologies - ones that my teenagers use almost every day. Obvious examples include iTunes, Netflix, Uber, and others. 

However, as I thought about it more, what is different about these "so-called" digital products and services - and what can it teach us? It's pretty clear that digital means different things to different people. 

Here are three considerations.

#1 - It's more than a website. Organizations have evolved their web presence over the last 20 years to include social media channels and digital marketing. However, the opportunity is to further integrate key web technologies with organizational business processes to provide new offerings and enhance business performance.  For example, think of a plowing service provider who installs a GPS device on their plow, with a web application that tracks their location and provides that information to their website, allowing customers to make an on-line on-demand booking with a plow that is close to their home. 


#2 - It's not only about technology. ​iTunes wasn't the first organization to provide music over the internet. Multiple players "ripped" music and provided MP3 files to be downloaded (sometimes illegally) by individuals onto their music players. However, iTunes introduced a new business model to charge users for a downloaded song or album to allow legal downloading of music. Other vendors, including Spotify, have further extended the business model options.


#3 - Blending products and services with technology to create a new and valuable client experience. Netflix initially allowed users to select and order DVDs by mail as part of an overall subscription service, without going to a DVD rental store. Eventually, it became an on-line movie and tv show platform streaming content to any digital device you wish without getting out of your seat.


Let me know your thoughts... and let's continue the conversation.



Sean Murphy is a Partner, Consulting and Technology Solutions at MNP. He is an accomplished business solutions project manager and business transformation architect with 20+ years of management consulting experience. Sean has an extensive background in project management, digital transformation, information management and business and IT strategy for public and private sector clients. To continue the conversation, drop Sean a line at [email protected]