Navigating a New Industrial Infrastructure

Three converging technologies are changing the way many businesses will approach the next wave of digital transformation.

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An MIT SMR initiative exploring how technology is reshaping the practice of management.
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Business leaders are increasingly inundated with information about how emerging, connected technologies such as cloud computing, internet of things, AI, blockchain, and others can transform their businesses. The potential resulting haste to adopt new technology and harness transformative change can lead organizations to treat these emerging technologies in the same manner as other, more traditional IT investments — as something explored in isolation and disconnected from the broader technological needs of the organization. In the end, those projects can eventually stall or be written off, leaving in their wake skepticism about the usefulness of emerging technologies.

The main struggle generally stems from the fact that IT is often regarded as a separate, siloed monolith and managed as such within the organization. But that isolated approach to thinking about, and investing in, technology may no longer be sufficient. We should no longer look at this range of popular, emerging technologies in the same way we have always looked at new IT advancements.

These new technologies are beginning to converge, and this convergence enables them to yield a much greater value. Moreover, once converged, these technologies form a new industrial infrastructure, transforming how and where organizations can operate and the ways in which they compete. Augmenting these trends is a third factor: the blending of the cyber and the physical into a connected ecosystem, which marks a major shift that could enable organizations to generate more information about their processes and drive more informed decisions.

Let’s explore this concept of convergence and the new infrastructure a bit further.

The New Infrastructure: What It Is and What to Do About It

As we think about the ways convergence affects how organizations operate, leverage technology, and compete, it is important to identify the emerging technologies that form the core infrastructure. The new industrial infrastructure comprises three specific capabilities that each fulfill critical business functions: connectivity, computing, and transacting. Together, they facilitate and manage information flows — generation, storage and processing, and secure exchange — creating a foundation upon which business and commerce can operate. While rooted in the digital realm, this infrastructure is every bit as real as the glass, concrete, and steel that offices or factories are made of — and every bit as critical.

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An MIT SMR initiative exploring how technology is reshaping the practice of management.
More in this series

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