What is digital business?

Since I have started my MBA at Bologna Business School I have had a lot of conversations going as below: Random person: So you are studying digital business?

Me: Yes indeed!

Random person: So is that like social media/apps/robots and stuff?

Me: Well, not really...

I was quite surprised what people think is digital business, and what you really learn about in a digital business MBA. So here are 3 examples of things digital business is not, and what is really behind the title!

Not digital business:

1. Social media and marketing

Ads on facebook, SEO optimization, social media campaigns can be part of the digital marketing toolset. We are surrounded by magical banners showing us items we have just looked at, our inbox is full of appealing newsletters, seems like some magical thing out there is just paying attention to all our shopping desires. Digital marketing is an important part of digital, but it does not end with it, and it would be very restricting to think so. For example, from my 11 long weekends in school only 2 were connected to marketing.

2. Startups and apps

Lot of amazing digital ideas come from and are realized by startups. We see many companies shaping our lives in the last years, which did not exist 5 years ago. We can throw out our landlines and encyclopedias, as we have apps that do so many things for us. In digital business we do talk about startups, and sometimes apps, but the ideas we learn are applicable both to established or new businesses. In regards of apps; apps are just a teeny tiny part of modern technology and innovation.

3. Robotics

Some people when talking about digital business think of something like this:


The usual opinions have definitely something to do with intelligent robots taking over our jobs and the world :) Entertaining, but is this really what we think of in digital business? Robotics, automation, some technologies are heading towards eliminating manual tasks to increase work efficiency, giving us space to use the unique human qualities such as creativity, empathy, emotional intelligence to design a better world. Unfortunately in digital business we do not learn to build robots (I would totally do that too), but we do talk sometimes about tasks possibly performed by machines, systems and tools to improve production and services.

What do we really learn in digital business?

1. A new way of doing business

Try to look at your life 10 years ago, and a typical day now. Besides some gray hair and/or wrinkles, a lot more has changed. 10 years ago you definitely did not spend that much time on social media (if any), could not ask a small machine about the weather, did not have music selected just to your taste, and drones did not do your shopping delivery for you. In the last years the world has immensely changed, and the best is yet to come. Business models, products, services, strategies, market dynamics, workflow, customer needs and relationships had also changed. Companies thriving on technologies, innovative ideas, are dominating markets.


Digital business teaches you the new ideas, objectives, theories, introduces tools to reach sustainable success with keeping in mind the unchanging economic principles in business.

2. Exploring possibilities in technology

Cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, IoT- these are just some of the more famous buzzwords in 2018 in the world. Tech is advancing in the fastest pace, and it would be a full time engagement to keep up with all the new tools out there. Digital business shows you into the world of possibilities, and can show you where and how to find the tech that you could need. We do not learn to code, make applications, software or so- but we have our eyes open for innovation. It is about finding a tool, understanding a functionality, explore added customer value, possibilities and cost for implementation, production and possible profit. I think this point is crucial- technology is a possibility, not a must. Not everyone needs to have an app. Not all the companies need to use robots. There are vast possibilities in technology, the important thing is to find the technology which will enrich the value you are providing to the customer and your economic value.

3. Customer focus

This point might seem a bit basic- of course everybody focuses on customers (that is where revenues come from). What we need to understand, that us, as customers, our buyer behaviour, customer journey has changed. The world, our possibilities, choices, information and impulses received are different and more. Communication with businesses changed. Up to a few years ago, companies used to communicate with us with one-way: showing ads on a website, in printed media, radio. Everybody has seen the same ad, same products. Now it is different- online your ads are different than mine, I can comment on a company on their social media page, establishing two-way communication.


Plus, the moment I came out with my super amazing customized product, how long will it take for the competition to arrive? There is an abundance of products, services, options for any product, service, entertainment. It is a fight out there for customer attention, time, revenues, resources. So how do we make a product which your customers really want and will invest in, how will we tell this to the world, and how will we keep on adding value to our customers life?

All in all- digital business concludes the new processes, practices, theories behind doing each and every part of a business in the 21st century. This might sound board, but the new possibilities, changes, improvements with the inclusion of technology are also just that- broad.

What do you think? What is your biggest question in digital business? What would you like to hear more about?

Thank you for taking the time to join me on my train of thought, see you soon again!

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