The Impact of Digital Transformation

The dictionary defines transformation as “a marked change in form, nature, or appearance”, and that is certainly what we’ve seen over the past five years when it comes to the way we do business.

In a more specific sense, business transformation is a change to the most fundamental aspects of an industry, from business models to infrastructure. Thus the digital transformation is far more than simply moves toward paperless systems - it is something has affected business from the inside out. From human resources and procurement to sales and operations, business is now defined by the digital.

However, despite its technological nature, the digital transformation is geared toward making business more people-oriented, connected and aligned. By utilising all the tools offered by the digital transformation process, we can hopefully return our focus to what matters in business - the customers.

Digital transformation is here, and it’s not stopping anytime soon. Transformation is by its very nature a continuous process of optimisation, with the business world expanding its competencies as new technologies become available. As long as there is progress in the digital world, digital transformation will continue to take hold.

How have we benefitted from digital transformation?

Perhaps the biggest driving force of digital transformation is mobility. This means that workers are moving away from desks, and embracing the technologies that allow them to work from home, or on the go.

The multi-channel approach of cloud data has opened us up to a new way of working, supporting a variety of devices, and allowing us to collaborate via laptop, tablet or smartphone, from anywhere, at any time.

A popular example of how mobility has infiltrated our working lives is Google Drive. Using this free tool, workers can now create limitless documents and spreadsheets from any device, and keep that data safe on a cloud-based platform, ready to be accessed again from another device.

This luxury has become so central to many places of work that it’s growing difficult to remember how we got by before it!

Algorithmic bots have also changed the way we do business. From SEO marketing to financial advice bots, we are relying more and more on artificial intelligence to crunch numbers, run research and assist us in making decisions.

While there was some initial concern about bots superseding human employees, so far their use in industry has saved time, cut costs, and reduced risks taken.

What are the risks of digital transformation?

As with any data storage system, the Cloud needs a thorough examination when it comes to security.

There has certainly been some hesitation from companies of all sizes when it comes to backing up confidential information on the predominantly public world of the web. With data breaches and hacked interfaces making the news headlines, it’s little wonder that the idea of relying entirely on cloud-based systems has raised some eyebrows.

That’s before we consider how mobility of data requires mobile networks with more bandwidth, operating systems and protocols that are able to support new apps, and digital rights management schemes to protect cloud-based content.

As with any new technology, these systems are works in progress, working to catch up with the bold vision that data mobility creates. However, given the centrality of multimedia storage and communication to the day-to-day lives of consumers, we can rest assured that the concerns and disruptions caused by digital transformation are only temporary!

An equally concerning issue that arises from digital transformation is one that’s slightly harder to pinpoint - the worry that too much focus on the digital will detract from a company’s human touch.

In fact, technology develops simultaneously alongside the need of customers, so it pays to remember that customer relationships are the driving force behind the transformation.

Ensure that your own digital transformation protocol focuses on what is useful and valuable for customers, and what will allow the business to serve them better. Keep an eye on consumer trends, so that you don’t waste time and money adopting digital behaviours that don’t align with your target audience.

How can we overcome digital transformation challenges?

One of the greatest challenges for CEOs contemplating digital transformation is knowing where to begin. The truth is, transformation cannot happen gradually - it needs a bold start and a clear plan, or it’s doomed to fail.

Getting the entire board on board with your plans can be a particular source of concern, as many may want to see changes rolled out over time, or prefer the ‘traditional’ way of doing things. The fact is, the future of transformative technology is still the great unknown - and for executives who operate in a world of cause and effect, taking the digital plunge can seem like a confounding variable.

In order to ensure that everyone stands behind the transformation, you need to appeal to the individual goals of each senior executive you’re pitching to. Break the vision down into terms that they understand, and include statistics about how digital transformation can translate to profits.

To achieve this, a wider culture change needs to be embraced - one in which digital transformation is seen as a means to an end, rather than the future of business itself. Technology provides a more efficient and aligned way of doing things, so that time, effort and funds can be put back into people-centric behaviour.

Allow employees to see how a digitally transformed office offers them time and space to focus on their own areas of expertise, and they will offer their support. Use digital transformation as an opportunity to transform your company culture into one that’s in-touch, aligned and bursting with pride.

What does the future hold?

While surveys suggest that only 27% of today’s businesses have a digital strategy in place, IDC predicts that the number of companies involved in digital transformation initiatives will more than double by 2020. B2B industries are the pioneers when it comes to closing the digital gap, although rising customer expectations mean that B2C companies will not be far behind.

This in turn means that CEOs will have to up their game to keep up with digital changes - by 2018, digital transformation will be the buzzword at the center of corporate strategies. As technology improves, CEOs may decide that digital transformation is more than a function of existing corporate structure, and create a new executive and team to oversee the process. Far from robots taking our jobs, the digital transformation could create new roles!

In fact, enterprises launching digital transformation initiatives may end up doubling the size of their development teams by 2018. Luckily, the digital transformation has already broadened the net when it comes to hiring the right staff - so it’s easier than ever to find the right team members at the right time.

That’s not to say that office hierarchies will remain the same - some experts suggest that by 2018, 20% of workers will use AI to help them make informed decisions at work, and that millions of workers worldwide will find themselves under the jurisdiction of a “robo-boss.”

If you’re not sure you’re ready to report to an algorithmic bot, don’t worry - there are plenty of digital transformations to be made elsewhere in your business infrastructure first!

However, you can be sure of one thing - there’s no time like the present to jump on the digital transformation bandwagon.

Do you see an increasingly digital future for your business? What are your concerns about the technological transformation? Let us know via our LinkedIn page!