Running a Business in the Digital Era: A Decade of Changes

business digital era changes

marketing planHow has the digital revolution has changed the way you do business over the last decade

Since the iPhone’s introduction in 2007, mobile technology has transformed business on a revolutionary scale. The aggregate annual consumer value that users in leading industrialized nations place on mobile technology above the cost of devices and services is now $6.4 trillion, exceeding the GDP of every country in the world except the U.S. and China, according to Boston Consulting Group. The way businesses are run has changed accordingly, and mobile technology and the related trends continue to reshape the face of business.

The Digital Revolution

The mobile revolution of the last decade is the latest phase of the digital “Third Industrial Revolution” initiated by home computers and the Internet. Current impacts on business include workplace use of mobile devices, shifts from on-site computer networks to the cloud, online collaboration apps, and the emergence of digital products such as music and video subscription services.

But the revolution is just beginning, Gartner predicts. Smart devices will increasingly supplement human decision-making, automatically handling tasks such as driving. In the business sphere, this will promote reliance on business intelligence and analytics. Similarly, virtual software, robots and drones will manage customer service and product delivery. Meanwhile, smart technology will build an “Internet of Things” where homes, TVs, cars and mobile devices are all interconnected with the workplace.


The Virtual Marketplace

The digital revolution has created a virtual marketplace, triggering two of the 10 biggest small business trends identified by Nextiva, a small business communications provider. The workplace has become increasingly virtual, with the number of Americans working entirely from home tripling over the last thirty years, and the number who occasionally worked from home growing from 50 percent in 2008 to 67 percent in 2014, according to Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom.

Meanwhile, virtualization has created a more global marketplace, which Adam Smith Institute fellow Tim Worstall says is likely responsible for the top American corporations increasing their profits by a figure equivalent to as much as 1 to 2 percent of the nation’s total GDP. While some experts see signs of globalization reversing, others argue that global trends remain strong, citing data such as a 9 percent rise in global foreign direct investment in 2013.

The Digitization of Branding

In today’s virtual marketplace, branding across multiple channels and especially on social media has become key to marketing. In recent years, social media has established a new branding paradigm where two-way consumer interaction with brands has displaced older one-way marketing. This will make brands more vulnerable to social media meltdowns when customers share bad reviews. Competitive companies will need to prioritize building their brand on social media, aided by brand management tools that keep digital brands consistent across all channels.

Omnichannel Sales

Omnichannel branding requires support from a complementary sales strategy. Magnetic chief executive officer James Green lays out five steps brands should take to achieve digital success, starting by establishing a social presence. Social media specialist Matthew Brown predicts that digital sales trends will encourage a selling model which minimizes customer interaction with sales associates and instead uses automated tools to support the purchasing process.

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Roy Rasmussen

Roy Rasmussen, co-author of "Publishing for Publicity," is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, and business coaching.