Jan Bosch is a research center director, professor, consultant and angel investor in startups. You can contact him at jan@janbosch.com.


Boost your digitalization: 8 capability areas to build

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During the last weeks, I reflected on the research activities in the Software Center for which I’m the director. I realized that everything we do with the partner companies and the universities is concerned with increasing the pace at which we’re delivering new value to customers. A decade ago, most companies relied on product generations for this, but over the last decade, we’ve seen a shift to periodic software updates and now continuous deployment with very frequent updates to deliver new value. We’re moving to a world where every system we use gets better all the time.

Although continuous deployment is still a challenge for many companies, it doesn’t stop there. The next hills to take are already up ahead. These include conducting A/B testing using systems deployed in the field as well as (federated) reinforcement learning to allow systems to fully autonomously experiment with their own behavior to continuously improve the value experienced by customers.

Everyone talks about digitalization as a goal in itself. In my view, however, it’s an enabler to achieve something else: a fundamental shift from a transactional business model and relationship with our customers to a continuous one. The transition from keeping products as static as possible after they leave the factory to continuously changing and improving already deployed systems requires a significant change across the company. Digitalization is such a hard challenge as it touches every function and capability in the organization, ranging from business models to deployment and from sales to finance. To survive and, preferably, thrive in this transition, companies need to develop new capabilities to capitalize on the new model of delivering value to customers.

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