Have you noticed the influx of new tech trends filling your inbox on a weekly basis? It’s like IT innovators are trying to upstage fashion designers by the sheer number of trends they create each year, and some of them are every bit as wacky as what you’d find on the runway. Ever heard the term “phygital?” It’s one such trend making waves in IT circles around the world, but what does it mean for your business?
Let’s define it first—and no, it’s not a term for someone who can’t sit still. To be phygital simply means to combine the digital and physical realms. More recently, this has taken the form of transitioning digital to physical. Clear as mud, right? It makes more sense in practice.
Keep phygital tech trends on your radar
Digital note-taking has been around for some time now—and for good reason. Infinitely expandable notebooks, unending ink, and reliable backups have made services like Evernote indispensable. Still, physical notebooks maintain their own charm. The marriage of the two in Evernote’s partnership with Moleskine provides an excellent example of phygital trends. Those unwilling to give up their physical pen and paper can still reap the benefits of their digital counterparts: Jot a note in your Moleskine notebook, scan a page with the Evernote app, and voila! You’ve got the best of both worlds.
But the phygital works both ways. Originally, there was a stark trend to take real-life experiences and digitize them; now, there’s a push to take digital processes and bring them into the real world. Those with a more industrial bend to their business have likely been exposed to the phygital phenomena in 3D printing. Ever wished for a physical representation of your digital prototype? 3D printing is your phygital solution. From MIT’s tactile book and dynamic display to real-life Instagram and Beck’s playable poster, this phenomenon is becoming as prevalent as it is creative.
Branch out your business perspective
When it comes to utilizing phygital concepts and trends effectively in your business, it’s all about perspective. In the IT world, it’s natural to have a little bias toward digital. It’s what you eat, sleep, and breathe, after all. That’s what makes it all too easy to develop tunnel vision in the way you tackle IT challenges. This is especially true as aspects of your job that have traditionally been physical—i.e., servers and network infrastructure—have largely been transitioned to the digital cloud.
But as new challenges arise, you can’t be caught ignoring any strategy that doesn’t involve a silicon-based solution. Imagine Princess Leia’s dismay if she tried contacting old Ben through email. With Obi-Wan cut off from the digital world on Tatooine, she would’ve had a much less pleasant stay on the Death Star.
Your own deployments risk similar outcomes if you don’t take the time to understand the intricate roles of both digital and physical processes within your environment. Trying to cut costs by going paperless? Some business processes are actually more cost-efficient in a paper-based workflow, especially given today’s printing tech trends. The same can be said for office security. Protecting digital assets gets put on a pedestal, but those that become physical are left high and dry. How are you protecting what users print? The right paper-based workflows, like pull printing, can make a huge difference for document security.
As the new year unfolds and things get even more phygital, leveraging an inclusive perspective will be necessary to foster continued success. After all, in a world that’s now without Obi-Wan, Han, and Luke, you need to watch out for yourself!