When it comes to technology, Digital Transformation is probably the hottest topic at corporate boardrooms today.
Why so? Mobile, social, cloud and big data aren’t that new; Google Trends shows that they have passed the peak. Yet Digital Transformation often associated with these components doubles in popularity each year.
Before talking about “T” in DT, let’s clarify the “D” word.
What is Digital Anyway?
Definitely, Digital is not about transformation at its core. It’s about the new lifestyle brought by “digital natives” – the generation that grew up with high speed networks in their classrooms, mobile internet everywhere and Google on smartphones.
Nobody ever showed a two-year old girl how to turn on a tablet, scroll through Skype icons and make a call to her favorite grandma. One problem: she can’t talk yet.
The children’s parents, unlike their offspring’s, are not born with it in the blood. For the new generation Facebook and Twitter is more real than many real things. Today, your products and services virtually do not exist unless they can be found at Google, Facebook, Amazon or eBay.
Digital natives don’t watch TV ads so the best way to become highly-visible is via viral YouTube clips or sticky mobile apps. This is where modern “mobility” first trend in applications development comes from.
What does this mean from technology perspective? Two things:
1) Now, humans have a “digital interface”. No longer do you need to send an e-mail to reach your prospects or even hire a salesperson to meet your sales targets. Give them a mobile app that they consider “fun” and reach them immediately getting an instant response. The point is that the company can do it by a software “robot”, not a human employee, therefore making a huge leap in productivity.
Smart mobile apps not only communicate with their human master – they utilize the full power of available sensors (accelerometers, GPS receivers, pulse meters etc.). Sensors let the robot know whether you are driving or jumping, coming home, or even going to a particular supermarket.
2) Since people are digitally active – they constantly leave footpaths from their Facebook posts to various search requests. Having a software “robot”, that can analyze this Big Data, a corporation will be able to select the ultimate product and make a proposal impossible to resist – as it is exactly what the person was looking for!
(There are privacy issues, so it isn’t that simple, yet the Digital leaders have proven that it’s doable on a condition that you are honest with your consumers and that you care about customer’s privacy and values).
Not only humans have digital interfaces today, it’s even more relevant for “things” – such as construction equipment, houses, cars, and refrigerators. More and more of them have sensors and are always online thanks to mobile networks ubiquity and the growing presence of Internet of Things.
What does this mean for business?
New lifestyle ultimately means new business models. It is about new employees serving new consumers in a new technology environment.
Off course, a company may not go that far and limit changes to redesigning the website or appointing someone to promote it in the social networks. There needs to be a tactical level of changes; not a transformation but rather a marketing initiative.
Others may take a more holistic tactic to the customer experience by utilizing the “Customer journey” approach that is becoming more and more popular today. It requests reviewing all company’s processes from customer’s end-to-end perspective and initial brand recognition through sales and delivery to sharing information with friends. Special attention is devoted to touch-points between customer and the company.
That would be a change of transformational scale because if taken seriously it would require radical redesign of core business processes. The company must present itself differently and behave differently.
And don’t forget putting the digital natives in the focus of the customer’s journey. They may not be the majority yet, but youth always wins at the end of the day, you know.
But even this may not be enough. The disruption from Digital wave affects some industries more than others. The first who suffered where media and entertainment, then hospitality and transportation – Airbnb and Uber come to mind.
Banks and insurance businesses are on the erupting volcano right now: the number one reason people are switching banks today - poor mobile banking experience. The true problem though is that it can’t be fixed by just releasing a more ergonomic and more fancy iPhone application: it’s about back-office systems, too. Historically, they were designed to serve accounts, not better customer experience.
Where is your industry’s place in this line? How fast the Digital wave will rise? What will be its height? Analysts say that over the next 18–24 months Digital could potentially disrupt the way businesses engage their customers, product and services are designed and delivered - changing how markets and industries evolve.
As always, it’s a two-sided blade: it may either raise you high above or ruin by pouring tons of water on your deck. Anyone remember Kodak? They were probably the first victim of the Digital revolution.
Any great business today may become irrelevant as easily as this great painting
Key Success Factors
They are basically the same as always: 1) Will, 2) People 3) Technology.
Digital transformation gives more stimuli for change than any management or technology fads during last decades: it’s a direct and immediate threat. You just cannot afford ignoring it if you ever care about shareholders’ value.
There is a need for “digital pioneers”. Being matured before the Digital wave, they can belong to “digital immigrants” but they are different due to personal qualities: they are “techno-maniacs”, eager to investigate every new technology they can reach. They have an important advantage over digital natives because they are old enough to understand and be efficient and effective in both digital and non-digital reality.
Technology is last but definitely not least because this time it’s all about technology.
When referring to “technology”, we actually imply - “software”. Digital Transformation is about “software robots” communicating with your consumers via smartphone apps, with the “digital reflections” in the social media, with “things” equipped with sensors and mobile interfaces, with your business partners via programming interfaces (API) and executable business processes.
Digital Transformation is focused on the traditional businesses becoming software businesses to a much larger extent then they currently are.
Age-old software legacy and software development methodology was not designed with these targets in mind, so there is a big gap between current offerings and new demand. Specifically, there is no software product that is able to manage in a uniform manner both well-structured business processes and unpredictable cases; one-task issues and transformational projects; architecture and execution; records management and social collaboration.
Comindware and other leading vendors are working hard to offer a new-generation software platform able to fully support Digital Transformation. Unlike traditional business applications, new apps should be built for change, be natively mobile, cloud-based and fully utilize the power of smart processes, project and case management.
Originally posted at App Developer Magazine 11.09.2015