The backdrop of digital transformation and its consequences

Digital transformation is now omnipresent and has the potential to reshape the way all organizations operate. The customer has become absolutely central to this transformation and the push towards the 4th Industrial revolution is driving this transformation wholesale, across all industries and services engaged in business.

Let me outline some of the challenges in my opinion that might help us all form a clear view of the digital transformation journey, recently researched.

Firstly I’m sure we can all agree transformation is very hard at the best of times

Digital transformation is doubly difficult, it forces us to work with mostly emerging, constantly evolving technologies, and then apply these in an integrated way into an existing business. This stretches our abilities significantly.

Beyond making a series of incremental improvements to become cloud-ready, we are supposed to reflect social, mobile and digital technologies. We need to fundamentally transform our processes by opening up and engaging with customers. On top, we have to deal with a broad range of communities, across platforms and in different ecosystems at speed, scale, and scope. However, we must do all this to reposition all our businesses towards the digital world.

I provided a recent digital transformation report that might help you in planning this digital journey.

I wrote a meta report on the recent developments in the digital transformation in late 2016 that was published by Hype. The report offered a selection of key visuals and overviews from 14 reports, which in turn were shortlisted from an original data set of 140 reports on the topic, ones published over the course of the last few years, that from my research, I found the most valuable. To obtain a copy, it’s free, click this link to register and download.

The intention of this report was to provide data for orientation for people dealing with this difficult topic, it was an attempted to extract a selection of the best emerging practices or thinking of the what, how and why digital transformation needs to be top of every business person’s mind. The report was designed to help you to trigger your thinking, and make you aware of multiple challenges and opportunities you may encounter on this journey.

I provided an opening backdrop to the report here as triggering points to reflect upon and recognize.

Business entities are being forced to open up

Digital transformation is happening at a scale and scope that makes many reluctant to take it on; it seems overwhelming in its complexity and risk. The business returns seem hard to quantify in traditional metrics. Thus it is hard to convince those undecided to support this, whether they are just skeptical or lacking technology adroitness. Yet for others, who recognize the future lies in technology and the power of networks and community engagement, it is the opportunity to radically alter their way of doing business; the opportunity to forge new competitive positions that have the collaborative engagement at its heart.

We have to embrace new technology – or leave the stage

The buy-in to this means undertaking a disruption to the existing organization, to the way you go about business. When considering this, you begin to understand the magnitude of the speed of change demanded. It implies a competitive need for opening up, for responding to and connecting with all external parties who are ready to collaborate.

We all need to think mobile, digital, cloud, and social far more than we did to date. We need to become comfortable in the analytics of big data. If we are not willing to accept that, we should step aside and allow those willing and digital savvy to take the reins and set the pace for the transformation journey.

At present individuals are far ahead of businesses in embracing the digital world

Transformation is coming at us in rapid waves. Its scale and complexity is either seen as amazing or simply accepted, with a shrug of the shoulders. Many are expecting it to be a seamless experience, powerful and adaptable, allowing the individual to make it highly personal.

However, business is lagging in exploiting the opportunity, whereas we as individuals seem to have embraced the social digital world already. Companies want technology to transform their business, but they struggle to find ways towards opportunities that offer true growth.

We don’t know what the “end game” will look like

We don’t know how the digital transformation will turn out in the end and we have to accept that. Much will come towards us as we adapt, learn and experiment, with many emerging technologies, all in different stages of their evolution.

You get a sense of survival pervading the boardrooms, a sense of growing concern when they recognize the threats and the magnitude of change this transformation will demand of them. They will be required to find resources for this journey, and be it just to stay competitive in this new digital world where the demarcation is blurring and industries are agonizing in continuous disruption.

The “survival of the fittest” will be determined by how successfully and how fast deciders maneuver through this shift. Transforming established businesses has become an imperative today.

However, there are three strategic goals to justify the transformational journey:

  1. Providing a better, systematic customer experience, leading to greater loyalty and fostering a community of advocates
  2. Internally, digital transformation can improve the operational efficiency
  3. New business models, which were not feasible before the time of the connected world, offer new markets and growth opportunities

Customer engagement becomes the primary focal point of justification to transform

Of those strategic goals, achieving customer engagement, in the sense of a sustainable partnership, is the most valuable one. Digital transformation enables you to engage your customers along their journey across various products, services and communication channels. Digital has become truly pervasive in people’s lives now and this simply forces businesses to think about how they can become a consumer technology company, irrespective of what they offer.

The challenges are massive. Companies are struggling to see clear business benefits in traditional ways of managing return on investment. They need to experiment and be ready to be agile and adapt as they go, as their customers will radically alter their perceptions and past positions. The journey will often be uncomfortable but necessary.

Senior executives have been trained in a curriculum that didn’t prepare them for this world of digital technology.

They lack the new tools of engagement, which are table stakes already in the world beyond their own corporate offices. They consider technology as something for others to worry over. Increasingly, they also lack the relevant exposure and experience to handle the new game successfully. Driving an effective digital transformation through technologies, which are constantly adapting and evolving, is not the prediction model based experience they are used to and that got them to the top. A new mindset is required, with solid risk judgment, replacing hard facts with soft instincts, and incomplete data with structured experimentation.

We must overcome the barriers for digital transformation

As outlined above, we face plenty of barriers for digital transformation: a lack of vision, not understanding the urgency, holding on to traditional measures for growth, and a host of organizational constraints that restrict decisions.

How do we best start off?

The toughest part of any transformation is actually recognizing you have to challenge your own past assumptions and be prepared to strip them down and rebuild them. Once you have accepted that, the answer to the questions is as simple to say as it is difficult to carry out. You have to understand and potentially fix your customer relationship, adjust internal operations and create a data collection workflow for business insights you can base your decisions on. And you have to do all this in a concerted way, as much as possible. So the actual starting point will be to come up with a detailed plan of coordinated actions and this is where this report might have great value.

What’s the goal to keep in mind?

Simply put, you need a picture of how you will (eventually) make money when you start your journey of digital transformation. Create a clearly outlined set of value propositions, and define how you will engage and interact with your customers, partners, and suppliers.

Your business will revolve around what customers really want, a seamless experience where speed, time, performance and response become dominating values – far beyond a specific job-to-be-done.

In general, business is moving towards a culture of experience. Whether in communications, development, or delivery: everyone’s time within the organization is pivoted towards the outside world. And the most important change in perspective is about being different, about carving out our own uniqueness.

A digital transformation is an event of historic impact, challenging what we believe to know

Technology is becoming an integral part of our lives, for us personally, as consumers or employees, but equally for businesses, the government and our educational institutions. It is pervading everything.

Look at digital transformation as an investment. Investments always take a time to show results, and digital will demand a lot. It is shaping the ways we will work in the future, on how we are going to connect, communicate, and learn. Often, we have been caught up in a specific device we use. This time, it is different though. It is how that set of devices allows us to become connected, how they interact and form a system to tackle a need or task and we need to learn how to respond to what they are telling us, and listening to others has never been the corporate’s best attribute.

In Summary

Digital transformation will keep pushing us to become more efficient and effective but also to become more adroit and innovative. We will need to take a ‘dual’ mindset to constantly balance these often conflicting tensions so as to harness all the different power sources of digital and structure the business and organization accordingly.

Digital is presently determined to be all-dominant, it simply erodes much of what we know and eats into our time that in the past was taken up by so many other things. We will need a new reset in our values and beliefs, a new re-equipping, to deal with everything digital.

Welcome to the digital era where we all are learning to transform ourselves! You might find the visuals shown in the report as very valuable, so as to piece together your understanding of the needs of any digital transformational journey. I enjoyed researching and extracting the best leading practices and frames to help.

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