SMAC: The 4 Levels Of Digital Business
By Philippe Gérard the 25 July 2017
The digital world is full of ephemeral acronyms. But there’s one that elegantly summarises the technical tools used to support digital transformation: SMAC – Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. Four technological anchor points, all of them essential for creating a digital business.
Four letters that support digital transformation
While there is clearly a human dimension to the process of digital transformation in business, it nonetheless relies on a solid technological foundation. The four letters in our acronym symbolise the digital change all by themselves.
Four technologies have triggered and determined the success of digital transformation in a variety of business, as well as facilitated it. Without them, acting on key areas of digitisation would be impossible.
The first parameter for assessing the digital maturity of a business is about updating technology. Each of the various departments within the business – marketing, HR and others – must adapt to current practices as soon as possible, to support relevant employees. Commonly, staff are further ahead in their own personal use of digital technologies than the business that employs them.
SMAC – an acronym initially proposed by Cap Gemini and Google Apps for Business – is a useful summary of the technological levers for digital transformation.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like represent the social dimension of digital technologies. Social networks have given individuals the ability to create, publish and share content.
This creates an opportunity, as well as a threat, for business reputations. Marketing and communications departments have had to get to grips with social media to redeploy their strategy and actions, as well as incorporate the concepts of engagement and ‘virality’ in their communications.
The web has become a social space, which has allowed brands and businesses to develop a more intimate relationship with their audiences – a personal relationship that also creates value.
Can this social dimension be carried over into the organisation via a corporate social network? Undoubtedly, provided there is a change in the corporate and management culture. But it is a difficult step to take and corporate social networks, collaborative working and cross-disciplinary management still represent major challenges to digital transformation within businesses.
The most visible technological invention of recent years offers people the freedom to move. No longer tied to a specific place to communicate, they are attached to a ubiquitous existence thanks to a highly personal device.
‘Mobile First’ is, rightly, the watchword of the new marketing professionals in a digital world. Innovative, disruptive business models are appearing, based on the use of mobile technologies as a priority. These utilise the two main advantages of mobile devices: geolocation and real time. Uber, the private hire service that competes with regular taxi companies, bases its entire value proposition and business model on the relevance of its mobile app.
Mobility will undoubtedly have an even greater impact on how work is organised and goods are produced with the development of remote working. This leads to the increasing use of ‘third places’ – the intermediate spaces between office and home, where people work, either individually or in a co-working space, as well as discuss and share ideas. Mobility heralds the replacement of the physical workplace, with businesses that are increasingly dispersed and virtualised, driven by the digitisation of their activities and services across the board.
While marketers are already familiar with web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, they can expect to see an increase in the amount of data and ways of managing their activities. Apart from statistics about the popularity of their website (visitors, pages, conversion rate, etc.), marketing departments can now use ‘Big Data’ to refine their strategy.
The spectacular growth in data, provided by consumers on the web and social media, is generating new, valuable sources of information for businesses. They can now transform this mass of unstructured data into precise measurements to improve their understanding of how customers think and buy.
An analysis of 800,000 tweets before the final of the Eurovision song contest, for example, meant the result was known before it was announced. Similarly, the number and nature of Google searches allows data analysts to predict precisely how an epidemic is spreading.
The use of Big Data allows for a more precise personalisation of products or services, based on a detailed understanding of user behaviour. At the same time, it paves the way to real-time and accurate predictive marketing.
The cloud is the major IT revolution of the century. Popularised by Apple, cloud technologies – or ‘cloud computing’ – allow information to be stored on remote servers connected via the internet, and accessed from any device (PC, mobile or tablet). It is a single source of data that is always up to date.
In fact, the cloud is the nerve centre of the three other technologies in the digital business: social, mobile, and analytics. All three exist, and are only possible, because of the cloud. Personnel involved in digital transformation therefore need to focus their priorities on the cloud and software as a service (Saas), where software is no longer installed on each work station, but accessed based on usage.
SaaS means computing resources can be adapted to reflect actual needs at the time. This helps reduce costs and aligns a business’s computing resources with the level of activity. Nonetheless, the cloud has its limits because you must be online to use it and your device is vulnerable to various security issues.
These four ‘SMAC’ technologies have paved the way for businesses to digitise their activities and services. Implementing them is one of the most important considerations in tackling the challenges of a real corporate strategy in the digital age.