Manage code to win in the new digital economy

Consider your home technology - laptops, tablets, mobile devices, gaming consoles, health sensors, and so on. Now think about all the things you do with your gadgetry from connecting with friends to managing your money and monitoring your fitness.


Consider your home technology - laptops, tablets, mobile devices, gaming consoles, health sensors, and so on. Now think about all the things you do with your gadgetry from connecting with friends to managing your money and monitoring your fitness.

Over time, every click, swipe, "like", buy, deposit, jog, and search produces information that creates a unique pattern of accumulated data that becomes your virtual identity. This virtual identity is your personal Code Halo.

If you use any device more complicated than a toaster, chances are this feels familiar and makes sense, but what is new is that this same idea is now playing out in many industry sectors. People, organisations, and things – basically any noun – can now have a Code Halo, and this phenomenon is beginning to change how organisations – and not just the digital native companies – create economic value.

Today's leading companies are dominating by extracting business value from the information that surrounds people, organisations, processes, and products - their Code Halos. If this sounds like marketing theory, consider that Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Netflix generated around $1 trillion in combined market capitalisation in just the last 10 years.

These digital leaders use technology to deliver individualised experiences based on our unique needs, wants, and history captured from the data we all share.

At first this can sound like the Big Data story or the rise of the Internet with a new label, but that is not correct. Data, algorithms, analysis, and connectivity are essential, but this shift is not confined to the Silicon Valley digerati.

Many different companies within a range of sectors are now embracing the power of Code Halos. GE is creating Brilliant Machines. Disney is launching the Magic Band at its theme parks. Allstate and others use mobile telematics devices and analytics to transform auto insurance. Philips is creating value from the information and data around their products. The list goes on, and it is growing every day.

Steer Your Business Through the Crossroads (and Avoid and Extinction Event)

Companies that have succeeded or failed have followed the same pattern – what we call The Crossroads Model. While one route can lead to new levels of market success, the other can take them toward extinction1.

Here are some top tips for staying on the right track:

  • Recognise the value of signal. Cognizant recently surveyed business decision makers in 300 firms globally, and they told us they achieved a total economic benefit of roughly $766 billion over the past year based on their use of business analytics. Competing on meaning and insight now stands as a potentially large value-creation lever for most organisations. IT is at the nexus of bringing this to life.
  • Prioritise design. Design is not just about making beautiful applications and Web sites. That’s still vital, but beauty needs to be embedded into the end-to-end process and user experience. This is business, not just aesthetics. The iPod beating the Zune, Progressive’s web presence, and Disney’s guest experience are all examples of putting design at the centre of a business strategy.
  • Compete on trust. Organisations that ultimately win will be those that generate, maintain, and compete on trust, allowing participants to opt in or out from sharing code. Some insurance companies already demonstrate a clear connection between value and information – what we call the Give-to-Get ratio – by offering a better insurance deal based on actual driving data.
  • Make IT Your Halo Heroes. Managing technology and information will be essential to the brand promise. The SMAC Stack – social, mobility, business analytics, and cloud-enabled solutions – is changing how people, organisations, and devices interact. Business leaders who want to harness the power of code need to (finally) break down the barriers between IT and the business. IT leaders will have an enhanced role as they help business leaders make strategic decisions when it comes to creating digital experiences for customers, employees, partners, and even devices.

We are in the early days of the next generation of the future of work. To win at the Crossroads, leaders and IT professionals must partner even more closely and begin to re-code the business, identify innovations that will matter in the future, and pilot new solutions that link the physical and the virtual for new kinds of business value.

Posted by Paul Roehrig, Managing Director, Centre for the Future of Work at Cognizant.

Paul, together with Malcolm Frank, and Ben Pring, is one of the authors of Code Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations are Changing the Rules of Business, published by John Wiley & Sons and the accompanying app, Code Halos, now available at Apple’s App Store.

1)See Code Rules: A Playbook for Managing at the Crossroads, by Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig and Ben Pring,

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