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We live in a digital world, we pay with plastic in the store or transfer money through the Internet. We have not payed for vacations and plane tickets in a store for years, we do that online now. The hotel business faces competition from enterprises like AirBnB and offering taxi services online elicits heavy debate. At the reception of a hotel in Ghent, we find both people and a robot among the check-in staff: is it a blessing or a curse? The world is becoming more and more digital and that process is unstoppable. Let us turn it into a blessing.


1. Integrate online with offline experience

Even within companies, the digital revolution is in full swing. In the past, computers handled clerical work and robots performed simple tasks at the conveyor-belt, but right now entire businesses are being automated. When you buy an item from an online store, the entire billing process will be automatic. Even procuring the article from the warehouse and preparing it for shipment is automated. Companies cut back on expenses and in return, the consumer receives a fast and correct delivery.

Innovative stores integrate the web store with the physical one. Companies like Coolblue take advantage of this and IKEA is also heading in this direction. The shop’s experience and the web’s experience are combined. New services emerge, such as at AkzoNobel where you can use the painting app to paint virtual walls on your mobile phone before ordering the actual paint.

2. Create a flexibel IT Architecture 

When organizations change, the structures and processes change as well. The architecture of the enterprise needs to be adjusted and decision structures change. Many decisions will be made by systems and monitoring the risks within those systems is a new function. Systems will have to operate sturdily and flexibly, which sounds like a contradiction but is merely a matter of design and programming. By employing good governing structures and flexible architecture, companies can be ready for the digital era. But there is still a need for people who can assess the worth of technological trends and translate them into business opportunities. Then you need experts and managers who understand both business and (information) technology, the so-called dual thinkers.

3. Become a dual thinker

My father taught me that someone with a hammer tends to view everything as a nail. He showed me that a toolkit needs to be filled in order to pick out the right tool. I taught myself to deal with the limitations of a toolkit and to look for creative solutions when presented with a new job. When technology and society come together during training, new ideas arise. When business and IT classes are offered in a master’s program, dual thinkers arise. This takes people out of their comfort zone, stimulates them to innovate, and creates open-minded people who can see changes coming and anticipate them with new services or products.

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