In speaking with colleagues recently, the question came up as to whether or not we are now post the Digital Age and, if we are, what would we call this next wave?

Some robust discussion and debate followed. One perspective is that we haven’t even scratched the surface of the Digital Age. With the Internet of Things (IOT), advancements in mobile still unrealized, eye-sensor technology that merchants now can place on shelves to assess how long a consumer is looking at product, the virtual dressing room, wearable and gesture-based technologies that are coming of age, it could appear that we still have a long way to go before calling an end to the Digital Age and the dawn of the next age.

To me, the personal computer followed by the internet ushered in the “Information Age.” For the past 2 decades or so, we’ve seen amazing advancements based upon these technologies. But, today, we see that computers and the internet are more or less making improvements on the fringe within these two areas (i.e. faster computers, more memory, etc. and faster, more broadly accessible internet). The real exciting stuff, in my opinion, is the interpretation of all of the data and information being generated by computers, mobile devices, wearable technology, beacons/sensors, etc. If we are moving beyond the Digital Age, and I am not suggesting that we definitively are, then perhaps what we are moving into is the era of the Age of Insights. And, in short, it is all about the data!

One can argue, for example, that companies like Nike, divesting themselves out of the Fuelband, at least the hardware / wearable side of the market, are keen to just focus on the data that can be captured via these digital channels. Harnessing big data and leveraging modern analytics methodologies, across all of the federated and omni-channel arenas, allows for an incredible ability to synthesize this vast information to gain customer insights previously unimaginable. And to be clear, the omni-channel channel origin of the data is no longer relevant but the analysis of, and learnings from, such data will be the true game changer that will place one company ahead of its competition.

Never before have individuals carried around devices such as mobile phones or connected tablet devices nearly 24/7. And never before have we had beacon/sensor or high-resolution camera technologies that can capture location-based data on countless people across vast geographies. Never before have we had connected devices of all sorts uploading data and/or communicating machine to machine as we do today. In fact, today’s reality is practically last generation’s science fiction. And the pace of such advancements is only increasing. One only can imagine where this will all be in just a mere 5 to 10 more years.

Nina Nets It Out: The Digital Age has given rise to many technological improvements. But there is a shift underway which prioritizes data over technology. The Age of Insights is upon us – and this new future will require new forms of knowledge, understanding and, most of all, leadership.

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