There is no longer any alternative to digital transformation. The last ten years of IT have been about changing the way people work, and the next ten years will be about transforming the business, from the inside out. Moving forward, organisations need strong leadership to achieve buy-in from the entire organisation in respect of the digital vision and strategy. As such, digital transformation should never be seen as a technology initiative but rather governed and executed by digital-savvy business stakeholders, with IT playing the role of key stakeholder and enabler.
Focus on transformation, not just digitisation
In just a few short months, the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 accelerated the digitisation of customer and supply-chain interactions and internal operations by three to four years. The share of digital or digitally enabled products in portfolios was hastened by a surprising seven years, according to a new McKinsey Global Survey of executives. However, responding to the pandemic was not just an exercise in fast-tracking technology deployments, it was also a test of an organisation’s ability to get employees and customers to embrace new forms of engagement and interaction. Unless the organisation itself embraced change, new technology doesn’t do much for the business. Here, digital transformation is less of a digital problem, and more of a transformation problem.
One factor that all digital transformation success stories have in common is the rate at which change was accepted, and if done properly, digital transformation can reinvent the entire organisation. However, under such conditions, the impact of change can also be overwhelming. Organisations that have made the most progress on their journey have also mastered the art and science of change management. They have achieved agility and are more successful at engaging their customers than traditional organisations.
Navigate the journey of change
On the path to digital transformation, there is no destination. There is only the journey. Digital transformation is not a point at which a company arrives, but rather better ways of working. Today’s newest organisations are born ‘digitally native,’ instead of transformed, but they will need to continuously reinvent their operating models using new digital technologies as they emerge. The pace of innovation and change is unparalleled, and as organisations are maturing, consumer behaviour is changing at the same time. These changes force further innovation from industry leaders to maintain a competitive advantage, which means there is no time for businesses to rest. There is always something new to innovate.
Facilitating future transformation, today
The future of digital technologies is no longer in question. As this domain matures, we will start to see even more digitally native businesses arise, than enterprises that are still transforming. With consumers and organisations finally ready to embrace digital change at scale, how can companies leverage that shift to facilitate future transformation? That is now the question. This is even more apparent when we consider the fact that digital transformation was never about technology. It was and always will be about people. With this in mind, forward-thinking companies should focus their next-generation digital initiatives on the following four areas:
- Customer experience: Companies must leverage data to provide better customer experiences. Such experiences are not about bringing consumers closer to businesses and brands, but about bringing businesses closer to their customers. It is about using technology to become part of their world.
- Employee experience: Employees are simply customers on the inside of the business, highlighting the importance of creating an enhanced work and engagement experience from within. Automation and machine learning can bring efficiencies to routine tasks, while other technologies like augmented reality can assist workers in ways not possible before.
- Operations: Enabled by the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0, innovations like digital twins and machine learning can give companies the tools to boost operational performance, introduce new services and work in ways that were previously unimaginable.
- Business model transformation: Not every company needs to be an Uber or an Airbnb to be successful. Not every company needs to disrupt industries. Success can be found in smaller opportunities for digital enhancement and data-based extensions. For example, insurance companies can monitor and score customers as they drive to personalise policy pricing.
People driving change
Focusing on continuously transforming and enhancing customer service, employee experience, operations and business models cannot be effective without strong, capable leadership. Those leading future efforts will be responsible for more than bringing the right technology into the mix. They’ll need to inspire people to embrace the change that comes with new technology, which can only be done by working through people and providing the necessary tools, energising them to embrace change, and listening to their ideas and concerns. After all, technology is meant to serve people, not replace them.
By Sarthak Rohal, VP – IT Services at In2IT Technologies
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