Moving beyond the responsible, digital future

Future Man Looking

Few trends have received more hype and attention in the past couple of years, than this broad-based phenomenon termed as "digitalization." If one were to do a simple cause-and-effect analysis, then it would be easy to arrive at a definition which would attribute digitalization to digital technologies such as mobile, social, cloud and IoT. Further, advances from robotics to cognitive intelligence to augmented reality, have catapulted the idea of "digitalization" into businesses across industries.

In today’s world, if a business hasn’t digitally transformed it won’t be around for much longer. But a technology-centric definition would be a radical over-simplification of this "business model necessity." While digital transformation -- much like the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" -- might be technology led, the change itself is much deeper, and has the potential to disrupt entire societies. To succeed in an already present change, organizations must look beyond the current changes and towards the future at four key themes:

  • Cloud-first or cloud-only: According to Gartner, by 2019, more than 30 percent of the 100 largest vendors' new software investments will have shifted from cloud-first to cloud-only. Similar to mobile-first strategies, being cloud-first in software design and planning is no longer an option, but a necessity for digital transformation in the enterprise. Now, this is gradually being augmented or replaced by cloud-only. This also applies to private and hybrid cloud scenarios.
  • Customer Engagement: This may seem like an obvious theme to consider, but the impact is beyond just providing "new ways" to engage/sell to customers. Organizations have an opportunity to re-imagine the Enterprise-Customer relationship, and businesses with successful digital strategies have converted point-of-sale interactions to continuing relationship journeys, transformed a one-dimensional view of the customer to a 360-degree view. This takes an organization beyond digital transforming, changing their position from "seller" to "trusted partner." This can be a game changer in terms of entirely new ways of running businesses or engaging with customers.
  • Disrupting to Create a New Service: In line with revamping customer engagement, it is important for organizations to think about how their BPM (Business Process Management) is not just enabling the re-imagination of existing business processes to make them faster and more efficient, but also opening new vistas for imagining entirely new This is especially true with the rise of companies like Uber, Airbnb and Blue Apron. Successful digital-native companies are transforming entire industries and creating entirely new ones. Organizations need to look beyond their boundaries and integrate consumer needs with the whitespace in the industry, creating unique products and services.
  • Leadership Culture: Digital transformation is less about one brilliant idea or one smart individual -- but more about integration and teamwork. The impact of digital technologies is so universal that the opportunities for transformation lie across teams, functional silos and organizations. Similarly, leaders have to step up and focus on the larger picture, playing a role that is more integrator and orchestrator, and less manager. Effective digital transformation leaders must invest in building these skills.

All organizations must think about how these changes will impact their business, but the approach will differ depending on their level of digitalization. If a business is not yet digitally agile, it must first create a strong strategy and look at the "business" aspects of digital transformation, rather than dive headfirst into the implementation of digital technologies. Questions they must ask themselves include: "Is my business made for the digital world" or "will I need to create a new service or tool?"

If a business is currently digital, it must then look beyond "digital transformation" and find the whitespace in that industry that has not yet been disrupted. It’s no longer about being "the most digital," but often about creating a new service within that industry to meet the customers’ needs. If organizations keep these things in mind, they will be able to successfully navigate the ever-changing enterprise landscape.

Photo Credit: alphaspirit/Shutterstock

Anand Birje is Corporate Vice President & Global Head, Digital and Analytics Practice, HCL Technologies.

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