How the iPod evolution paved the way for cognitive business

By Karin Kelley

| Healthcare

It’s been more than 15 years since Apple released the first iPod and revolutionized the way the world listens to music. Though some critics were initially skeptical about the device, the iPod ended up driving 50 percent of Apple’s revenues by 2015, according to Statista. Though the ubiquity of the MP3 player has been all but replaced by smartphones in 2017, the impact the iPod evolution has had on all aspects of today’s digital and hyperconnected world cannot be understated.

The inspirational trajectory of Apple’s iPod

Today, many may take the power, ease of use and convenience of connected digital devices for granted, forgetting that things weren’t always this way. For instance, take the fact that the iPod initially only worked with Apple devices and was essentially a portable storage device for music. However, it didn’t take long for Apple to realize that adding support for other operating systems would be essential to the ongoing success of the product.

Soon, the company added USB support capabilities that enabled people to listen to music through multiple devices and in their cars, rolled out the iTunes store to connect people and devices to the cloud and added video playback and recording capabilities. Basically, Apple has been at the forefront of the consumerization of IT and a new era of mobility that is now a standard expectation of consumers in all industries.

How the iPod evolution embodies the concept of cognitive business

Though Apple reinvented the music industry and how people consume digital media, a parallel paradigm shift is taking place in the enterprise world. With the rise of big data, analytics and the rapid adoption of the cloud, mobile, social media and the IoT, businesses today are taking advantage of these digital technologies to create competitive value through cognitive computing.

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In the past, businesses made decisions based on historical data and experience. With cognitive systems, which have the capability to learn, reason and react based on the real-time collection of structured and unstructured data, businesses have the ability to gain deeper insights and discover patterns and strategic opportunities that were not possible in the past. For example, if a customer contacts a call center equipped with a cognitive system such as IBM Watson, nuances such as the person’s tone of voice, sentiments and historical interactions enable help desk personnel to personalize the experience and continually add value to the relationship.

The shift is happening across all industries, too. In healthcare, for example, a cognitive computing system can bring together data from multiple sources through APIs to create a cloud-based data-sharing hub across clinical, research and social systems to deliver better, less expensive and faster treatments to patients. In retail, businesses can equip their employees with personalized insights into their customers’ product preferences, past purchases and overall experience to deliver competitive services. With cognitive systems that learn in real-time, cognitive businesses are agile and can adapt to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding and tech-savvy customer base.

Looking back at 15 years of the iPod evolution, businesses in all industries can learn from Apple’s innovation in digital, cloud, mobility and the overall consumerization of IT. As the product went through various incarnations over the years, what made it so successful is how each new version came with capabilities that consumers were quick to adopt and soon came to expect from all digital and cloud interactions. By adopting the same concepts into their enterprise strategy with cognitive computing, businesses across all industries can create more value for customers and partners alike at a rapid and more accurate rate.

Written By

Karin Kelley

Independent Analyst & Writer

Karin is an independent industry analyst and writer, with over 10 years experience in information technology. She focuses on cloud infrastructure, hosted applications and services, end user computing and related systems management software and services. She spent nearly eight years…

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