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Exploring the Digital Economy of Interconnected Agents

Why wait for your business model to be disrupted? The most savvy CEOs and informed CIOs will structure their business and technology investments to capitalize on the new economic realities of an emerging Digital Economy, according to the latest worldwide study by Gartner.

"In the flash of a digital business moment, a customer may become a partner or even competitor," said Betsy Burton, vice president at Gartner.

Digital business transformation requires an organizational architecture that empowers economic Agents, and can cope with an exponential increase in interactions from many different things. Gartner calls new economic models arising from digital business the "economics of connections."

Why Connected Agent Ecosystems Matter

This idea builds upon Metcalfe's law, which was originally used to describe telecommunications networks and states that the value of an agent within a network increases exponentially as the number of connections increases.

"Digital business significantly changes this type of value calculation that guides investment decisions," said Ms. Burton. "First, tens of billions of things will join the billions of people and millions of businesses online. Second, any of these agents will be able to play multiple roles -- customer, partner, supplier, employee, competitor, or a combination of them."

As an example, within the U.S. market, DigitalGov enables citizens to access all kinds of information, from government jobs to population data. Thanks to an application programming interface (API), they can also act as partners and suppliers by creating portals and services based on the DigitalGov platform.

Developing Interconnected Agent Networks

Gartner analysts believe that the more ways by which people, businesses and things can be connected to a store of information, the more value it will have. The exponential increase in connections that digital business brings and the different roles each agent may take in the network are making the architecture of digital business less siloed.

"People, processes, information and technology are more fluid and integrated," said Ms. Burton. "To accommodate these dynamic connections among people, businesses and things, enterprise architect (EA) practitioners will have to design a digital business architecture to support them."

In addition, the EAs primary task is to create deliverables that help business and IT leaders achive significant business outcomes. Gartner says that EAs need to start developing unified solutions to track dynamic contextual information about various agents in different roles. With this ecosystem, they will identify the key agents in their digital economy and quantify their value in terms of money, goods, influence and reputation.

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