In the first blog post in this series, we presented the six main benefits of working with SMEs, explaining why they should be an important part of your supply chain.
Information and communications technologies have had a profound impact on the world of business for at least three decades. There is a general consensus, however, that ‘we ain’t seen nothing yet’ – that the changes witnessed over the last 30 years have been the warm up act for what is coming.
We have entered a new, more revolutionary phase in the development of digital technology; a period characterised by turbulent digital change and digital disruption. Over the next few years, the convergence of a range of disruptive technologies will reshape Middle East industries and markets faster than at any time in history.
These disruptive technologies include ubiquitous broadband and mobile connectivity, social media, enterprise social, the cloud, big data and predictive analytics, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, automation, additive manufacturing (3D printing), wearables, autonomous vehicles, the Blockchain, combined with the rapid emergence of a new generation of constantly connected customers and constantly connected employees (Gen C).
On their own, each of these technologies would be disruptive enough. The fact that they are converging at the same time creates the conditions for a perfect storm.
The commercial cleaning industry in the Middle East will not be immune from the threat of being disrupted. We are already seeing the early signs of a tidal wave of digital change sweeping the industry with the growing use of technology innovation in contract cleaning; increasingly sophisticated and specialised computers, machines, robots and algorithms used to perform routine, repetitive cleaning tasks; autonomous floor cleaning robots in shopping malls, airports and industrial premises; the growth of online ordering and e-commerce in the cleaning supply chain; the wide ranging impact of the Internet of Things (IoT); drones and cognitive computing in facilities management; smart offices and smart cities; 3D printed office blocks; robot chefs; robot managed hotels; and so on.
Being based in Dubai, we are very fortunate to have a government who ‘gets IT’. Creating a world-class digital nation is a top priority for the Dubai government. An agreed digital vision and strategy is in place, supported by agreed targets and KPIs in areas such as smart buildings, additive manufacturing, autonomous transport, paperless government, the Blockchain and others.
This will only help to accelerate the pace of digital change taking place in the region.
Are SMEs ready to adapt?
The question is no longer whether your business will be affected by digital disruption. The only pertinent questions to ask now are how severe will the impact be and the timescale over which this will occur.
There is no room for complacency.
While some industries may take longer to be disrupted, rapid and continual digital innovation has become the new normal. There is an inevitable movement of all industries toward a ‘digital vortex’ in which business models, offerings and value chains are digitized to the maximum extent possible.
Developing an appropriate response to the digital challenges outlined above should now be considered a top priority for your business. The choice, quite simply, is to ‘adapt or die’.
There will be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in an era of disruptive digital change. ‘Winners’ will be businesses that leverage the full potential of digital technology for driving transformation advantage in the five key areas listed below.
A useful starting point for SMEs is to undertake a ‘Digital Gap Analysis’ – an internal audit of the digital progress your business has made benchmarked against the rapid pace of digital change taking place. The resulting ‘gap analysis’ – the gap between where you are currently and where you should be provides a very strong basis for future strategy development in this area.