The idea of the Digital Mesh was introduced by Gartner in its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018 report as a way to describe how customers will interact with a hybrid digital and real world. Gartner defines it as "the entwining of people, devices, content and services." As business stacks grow more integrated, I believe that blended digital ecosystems will become the commonplace way of doing things.
The Advantages of the Digital Mesh for B2B Business Teams
The Digital Mesh makes interacting with things easier and smarter for B2B business teams. These solutions augment the teams' capabilities by improving many parts of the process, so they can focus on what they do best. Here are a few implementation options that I feel will prove useful in B2B.
AI-Powered Decision Trees
B2B teams have an overwhelming amount of data available to them, and getting lost in the noise is easy to do. I don't know of anyone who wouldn't welcome a way to better use the information their organization has available, especially when it comes to strategic decision making.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered decision trees use machine learning algorithms to evaluate potential decisions based on all available information. It processes the data sets and provides meaningful, actionable strategies that make sense for the B2B team. It learns as it works with the data, allowing it to become more relevant to the company's needs over time. Organizations end up with a powerful asset for their growth.
Too much time gets spent on inefficient processes in organizations, and they lose out on the reasons that they hired talented people to begin with. This leads to a lot of issues, from employee engagement to poor customer experience. I see a lot of truly talented people getting buried under glorified data entry tasks and other administrative overhead. Process automation takes away a lot of this busy work, and also streamlines other duties.
Intelligent bots provide another opportunity to off-load simple requests and free up people's time. These AI bots come in many forms, with companies starting to use them for everything from banking to e-commerce. One of the most common use cases is handling basic customer support for social channels. Since people expect speedy responses to these channels, no matter what time they're contacting a company, the intelligent bot provides an open line of communication.
They can't handle unexpected or overly complex requests, so those get routed to human staff members, but the high volume of basic questions can easily get addressed with the bot. When someone needs to get hands-on with a customer, they don't have to rush through the process because they have a queue with hundreds of other people. Instead, the staff member gets to take their time and provide the best possible service, helped by systems that display everything from the customer's original order to the notes that the sales team made.
Digital Twin Predictive Analytics
A digital twin is a concept that is most commonly used in the industrial Internet of Things. When companies try to determine when their equipment may require maintenance or could fail, they combine predictive analytics technology with a dynamic software model of that machine or part. Companies can use that model in many simulations so they can proactively address any issues.
The Dark Side of the Mesh
While I'm an advocate of the Digital Mesh, it isn't without its problems, especially during the early stages when organizations realize that their old network security measures won't work with these new solutions. I see this with companies switching from traditional infrastructure to cloud-based and IOT systems. They assume that all they need are the same security appliances that worked for their on-premise systems. However, they fail to realize that this doesn't protect endpoints when half of them operate outside the network entirely.
Microsoft's Azure secure cloud is an example of a business-class cloud platform with a focus on security. The Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite, powered by the Cortana AI that the company uses in other intelligent products, offers enterprise-level security functionality.
The AI foundation keeps Azure safe by learning about the latest threats and the behavior that indicates vulnerabilities and other high-risk problems. Rather than relying on simple definitions and strict security rules, it evaluates the data that it has available and adapts the security measures necessary. Cortana Intelligence Suite also provides big data analytics, predictive and cognitive analytics, and other useful features for a data pipeline.
Another area that organizations need to revisit is their business agility. The Digital Mesh will speed up the pace of business, with the help of real-time data and intelligent analytics. These insights reduce the risk that companies take when they start exploring new markets or reacting to moves that competitors are making. However, if the business isn't set up to implement ideas this quickly, then the opportunities get lost. One of the first orders of business is figuring out exactly how to move from the Digital Mesh generated concept to reality, and what that means for the company's business model.
While it's uncertain when the mesh will take over, it's just a matter of 'when', not 'if'. The main advantage of having our environment digitized is ironically giving us our human-ness back. By building smarter, we can better focus on the human side of our lives, work and families.