Edward Hadley on February 25, 2016
I just returned from my family’s first trip to Disney World in Orlando. It was a truly special week for my two kids, especially my nearly six-year-old daughter. But what stood out to me is how expertly Disney has merged the physical and digital worlds to create one, connected and memorable experience.
This merging of the physical and digital worlds is one of Mendix CTO Johan den Haan’s top predictions for 2016. This trend is being driven by the rapid proliferation of sensors and connected devices, aka the Internet of Things. Digitally savvy organizations are able to effectively harness the IoT and the deluge of data it creates to transform their operations, products and services and even business models.
What’s Disney’s secret to merging the physical and digital worlds? It all starts with the MagicBand, a colorful, waterproof wristband for each family member that uses Radio Frequency (RF) technology. MagicBands seamlessly connect your physical experience at Disney parks and resorts to the MyDisneyExperience web and mobile apps, integrating pre-trip planning, on-site activities, post-trip memories and more. In the process, Disney has created new and enhanced customer experiences, as well as new digital products and services.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Disney has done a great job of merging the physical and digital worlds to make their customer experience both more convenient and more memorable. In exchange for shorter lines and the biggest smile you’ve ever seen on your kid’s face, they’re able to collect a vast amount of real-time data that they can use to fine-tune their operations, increase share of wallet and innovate new products and services.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see how Disney further optimizes this “digical” experience. Here are a few ideas based on my own experiences last week:
While Disney and the broader travel and hospitality industry is clearly at the forefront of the “digical” trend, there’s enormous potential for countless others, including retail, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, education and government. In the insurance industry, we’re already seeing carriers use connected devices like Fitbit and telematics to collect real-time data and offer innovative usage-based products. And one of our customers is leveraging IoT to transform its business from manufacturing light bulbs to delivering greenhouse optimization as a service. Sensors collect data on light, temperature, soil, weather and more, which is then fed into machine learning services that help optimize plant photosynthesis along with energy consumption and greenhouse maintenance.
Regardless of the use case, capitalizing on digical requires fast, iterative development of new multi-channel applications. For most organizations, this is unchartered territory so you need to be able to test new ideas quickly, flexibly and at low cost to see what works and what doesn’t. And when you find a winner, you need to be able to scale it instantly, while having the real-time insight and processes required to continuously innovate. Last but not least, you must be able to seamlessly leverage IoT and machine learning services to build intelligence into applications.
The Magic Kingdom may be “the most magical place on earth,” thanks to its masterful merging of the physical and digital worlds, but your retail store, shop floor or airport terminal could soon give it a run for its money.
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