Applications and Use Cases

The New Business Model: Orchestrating Networks of Value


February 08, 2019

As always, last week’s ITEXPO Conference & Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, featured an abundance of education and discussion focused on emerging technologies that are poised to usher in a new era of business innovation and success.  Terms like Future of Work and Digital Transformation were heard all week and highlighted by Dr. Ben Amaba, Chief Innovation Officer at IBM during his keynote address when he proposed there are three reasons why business leaders attend events like ITEXPO.

1.To discover new products and technologies;

2.To become closer to and add value to customers;

3.To become more cost effective and operationally more efficient.

“As technologists, we are all very enamored with the technology,” he said.  “But, you need to do all three of these things to be successful.”

He noted that half of all Fortune 500 companies since 2000 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired, or ceased to exist for some other reason, and more than half of executives are likely to be surprised by a competitor emerging from outside traditional markets.

“You can’t control what your competitors do, but you can control what you do,” he opined.

His point is that while there will always be external threats – both from traditional competitors and new ones – the only real influence business leaders have is over their own organizations, and there are internal threats that, if not addressed, will make it easier for these new competitors to win market share.

Those internal threats include:

  • Siloed, disconnected data everywhere across businesses,
  • A gap in skills and experience, and
  • An inability to react quickly.

The key to successfully navigating these challenges is transitioning to an industrialized and future-ready organization.  Amaba noted the education at conferences like ITEXPO provide tremendous opportunity for business leaders to understand how they can take advantage of technology to build better businesses.

“Future-ready companies – those that are leveraging AI, blockchain, IoT, data analytics and monetization – these are the businesses you really want to be,” he said.  “It’s about prioritizing existing technology in order to gain an advantage.”

He did not misspeak.  To Amaba, these technologies that many are still calling “emerging” are very real, in fact, (e.g., “existing”) and are being leveraged today by leading companies to drive growth opportunities.  These technologies, he says, are part of a new algorithm for business success – and all of them were all part of the programming at ITEXPO and its collocated events (The Future of Work, AIOps Expo, SD-WAN Expo, MSP Expo, The Blockchain Event, IoT Evolution Expo). 

The new model, Amaba explains, is about using new technologies to orchestrate networks of value.  Rather than the traditional model of one business selling one set of products or services, network orchestrators deliver value by building platforms to connect various members of that network, enabling them to easily engage and conduct business at much greater scale.  Because everyone benefits from each other’s successes, each member is incentivized to grow the network.

Take Wal-Mart, for instance, which is leveraging IBM’s Food Trust platform to build a consortium of food suppliers to ensure a more efficient and trackable food supply chain.  Rather than a full week, the blockchain-based data-driven platform allows products to be traced in as little as 2.2 seconds, helping pinpoint any potential problems from originating source through receiving retail sites, reducing response time and waste.  With that kind of efficiency improvement, a 1 percent reduction in food borne illness can result in $700 billion in savings in the U.S. alone.

“These are no longer emerging technologies,” Amaba reiterated.  “There is no doubt – it is happening today.”

All participants in the network – producers, custodians, platforms, analytics, and presenters, which are represented in the Food Trust network by growers, processors, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, and retailers – work together to for the benefit of the networks.  What Amaba said, just days before the biggest football game of the year, is that businesses are having a hard time understanding who all these players are in their networks who will help them win the Super Bowl.  Once they figure that out, they can become network orchestrators in their own ecosystems and begin to build networks of value that will scale quickly and increase revenues.




Edited by Erik Linask

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