By: S. Mendhurwar
Today’s customers expect a wide range of innovative services at their fingertips. For example, in just over a decade, we have become routinely accustomed to hitherto unfamiliar mechanisms of ordering goods and services online. Marketers tend to use their ingenuity coupled with technology to make smart propositions to customers and gain an edge over their competitors.
In the current Digital Business era, potential economic synergies galvanize convergence of dissonant technologies, which is facilitated through relevant advances in allied fields. For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) espouses a cogent environment that emancipates everyday objects as well as industrial equipment to conceptualize a digitally connected cyber-physical world with unprecedented capabilities. On the other hand, social technologies have been revolutionizing the ways in which people connect, work and stay in touch with each other. The confluence of these two diverse technologies has metamorphosized the evolution of Cyber-Physical Social (CPS) systems like Social Internet of Things (SIoT), as proposed in . Synergies between these divergent technologies have been described in research works like . Several architectural strategies for the same have been suggested, e.g. , to effect digital transformation by looping in both machines and humans.
A brief emergent outline is indicated in Figure-1 below. The symbiosis between networks of humans and machines has the potential to unleash innovative applications. For example, in the future – this is likely to impact the way we procure, utilize, service, and refurbish our core assets as well as accessories. Increased controllability and customizability are likely to yield better cost savings while at the same time enhancing efficiencies and productivity.
Dramatic enhancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytics capabilities in the previous decade capitalize on improved computing, connectivity, and storage technologies. These have further gravitated synergies, leading to the proposition of Cyber-Physical Social Thinking (CPST), as described in . While such massively interconnected mechanisms enthuse miraculous dexterity, adequate precautionary measures are recommended to thwart undesirable incidents. The evolving forte of finance – distributed ledger technologies like Blockchain, has brought a fresh perspective to enforcing trust amongst unfamiliar market participants in heterogeneous contexts. Blockchain-enabled Cyber-Physical Social Thinking (BCPST) promises to bring innovative benefits  to multiple facets of the global economy, including – healthcare, energy & utilities, manufacturing, supply chains, education, and governance. The emerging digital whirlpool threatens to usurp almost every walk of our public and private lives and offers an exciting research arena.
Based on flexible layered approaches catering to – Perception, Connectivity, Persistence, Social Platform Capabilities, Blockchain Composite Technologies, Intelligent Thinking and Analytical Capabilities, and Interfaces; Governance design frameworks leveraging continuous integration and monitoring have been suggested, e.g. . It is expected that marketers could suitably adopt some of these ideas to distinguish their value proposition and offer innovative next-generation services to their customers.
In the current digitalization age, this could prove to be a fairly new exciting area to explore. However, highly fluid technology development, convergence, and market dynamics pose multiple challenges for researchers and practitioners like:
- Evolving technology standards for seamless interoperability and performance: Without standards-based interoperability, islands of innovation from multiple market players are unlikely to significantly impact customer adoption.
- Developing integrated mechanisms for providing Security, Trust, and Privacy: With everything connected to everything and everyone, the risk and potential impact of security incidents can be expected to be humongous. There is a clear need to evolve better mechanisms to protect and control individual data
- Proposing globally applicable approaches towards legislation, ethics, and regulation: Global connectivity, content administration, and transaction capability have their own implications across sovereign states, which are being researched in various technology contexts. The BCPST context features additional complexities that would need to be addressed. For example, cultural sensitivities, control-hierarchies in the un-chartered context of machines or artificial intelligence shaping, assisting or controlling actions or outcomes affecting citizens.
- Precisely articulating contextual business model innovation for BCPST environments: For any technology to reach critical adoption levels, underlying value propositions and potential impact on business models need to be researched and understood.
- Improvised multi-channel cyber-human interfaces: Considering the various likely user-profiles and usage scenarios, beyond traditional man-machine interfaces, dynamic combinations of speech, touch, vision, etc., are likely to be needed and would have to be suitably developed.
- Atzori, L., A. Iera, and G. Morabito. (2014). “From “smart objects” to “social objects”: The next evolutionary step of the internet of things”. IEEE Communications Magazine 52(1): 97–105.
- Mendhurwar, S., and R. Mishra. 2018. “Emerging Synergies between Internet of Things and Social Technologies.” Journal of Global Information Technology Management 21 (2): 75–80. doi:10.1080/ 1097198X.2018.1462918.
- Mendhurwar, S., and R. Mishra. 2019. “Integration of Social and IoT Technologies: Architectural Framework for Digital Transformation and Cyber Security Challenges.” Enterprise Information Systems 15 (4): 565–584.
- Ning, H., H. Liu, J. Ma, L. T. Yang, and R. Huang. 2016. “Cybermatics: Cyber–physical–social–thinking Hyperspace-based Science and Technology.” Future Generation Computer Systems 56: 504–522.
- Mendhurwar, S., & Mishra, R. (2021). ‘Un’-blocking the industry 4.0 value chain with cyber-physical social thinking. Enterprise Information Systems, 1-48.