Digital transformation is indeed the buzzword of our age. A broad-ranging term, it encompasses numerous digital solutions that are replacing legacy technologies and introducing new standards in efficiency, capacities and capabilities. Whether it references cloud computing, AI augmented analytics or big data, what this all-encompassing term is really alluding to, is the harnessing of advances in technology, to deliver business innovations. The enthusiastic and rapid deployment of these solutions is driven by the competitive advantages they have delivered for early adopters – virtually ensuring their status as default options moving forward.
Recent advances in digital technology are reshaping the business world to an unprecedented degree. Innovative IT solutions have made entirely new categories of services, mechanisms and synergies possible. For instance, there is a rapidly emerging digital transformation in retail led by early adopters, as well as deepening of customer engagement with the help of technology. Internal processes and strategies too are experiencing a robust evolution. Agile and cheaper networking – through storing data, applications and services on the cloud, AI and machine learning-driven innovations, big data analytics and Industrial IoT – are becoming mandatory practices.
As enterprises adopt technologies that enable rapid response to dynamic eco-systems, optimal business functions will need to be ever more fluid, adaptable and intelligent. In this scenario digitization will be the decisive strategy to remaining relevant. Cheap and ubiquitous connectivity has become available to most people in the world today; and, furthermore, nearly every transaction or interaction can now be conducted remotely, online. Ultimately, digital transformation is the process of becoming more compatible, synergistic and optimal in this new emerging way in which our world is organizing itself.
Becoming a digital native
Every aspect of our world is being reshaped by the impact of digitization and omnipresent connectivity. The scale and scope of the advantage that digital technologies can deliver in such a context is virtually limitless. The pervasive influence of technology on the market place and on consumers forces the modern enterprise to incorporate these technologies in order to compete and stay relevant.
Emerging technologies are making it possible for businesses to provide targeted services, be customer-centric, agile, disruptive and efficient to an extent that was not possible in legacy models. The adoption of these competitive advantages by leading brands - or innovative upstarts – tends to make their rapid uptake inevitable across the entire industry. Porsche’s digitally enhanced CRM center – for instance – has precipitated widespread emulation in the high end automotive market (3).
Automation of processes is making unprecedented price points viable for early adopters. Enhanced customer engagement and personalized services are shifting consumer loyalties towards enterprises able to deliver on these standards. Digital transformation is, therefore, not merely about the adoption of a few functional innovations or business strategies. Becoming a digital native is the inevitable adaptation to a new paradigm.
The scope and scale of the disruption
Essentially, numerous variables we have taken for granted - in legacy models – are rapidly on the way to becoming either redundant or entirely redefined. Digital Transformation transcends technology in much the same way as the first industrial revolution did. By optimizing a new model of human organization, it will be an agent of change that brings an entirely new society into being. For now, within a business context, one can identify the following elements as those that will be most obviously redefined:
- Organizational hierarchy and functional models.
- Services and engagement expected as default by customers.
- Modes of product and service delivery.
- Interactive functionality within organizations and their network of partners and collaborators.
- Redefined best practices and regulatory compliance - due to enhancements in the ability to collate, process and interpret data.
Where to from here?
The scope of the transformation cannot be fully anticipated, as the sheer diversity of capacities and solutions will continue to generate further innovations, with each new iteration. Enterprises will need to assess their strengths, vulnerabilities and resources extensively, to strategize their digital transformation effectively. Involving all stakeholders and the entire array of expertise within the organization is essential in determining a specific model to deploy.
These considerations and precautions aside, it is crucial for organizations to realize that many of the factors that have influenced their businesses will be redefined or completely discarded. As daunting as such a prospect can seem, this essentially represents opportunity to empower businesses to an unprecedented extent. Human civilization is already substantially digital; Digital Transformation is simply the process of aligning with that reality. The process of transformation itself is complex and highly sensitive to a staggering array of variables, for which partnering with an experienced and capable IT service provider is practically a pre-requisite to a successful transition.