The availability of consumer facing technology, the access to real-time data, and the implementation of digital automation, is set to drive real change in the world’s economies – for both income and expenditure. The affordability of digital technology and accessibility of social media is creating new economic rules and social norms. It is not only requiring businesses and governments to adapt, it is also reinventing the way people live, work and play. However, with opportunity and growth comes challenges, and for some businesses the rise of digital means a significant threat. Those businesses still sleeping walking will need to wake up if they want to survive the 21st century.
Digital Transformation will give rise to a new Digital Economy: Broadband Internet access, cloud computing and mobile devices have already set in motion a new wave of capitalism. Expected to transform consumer behaviour and redefine business models, a dependence on digital technology for information and transactions is set to create a new digital economy marked by networked consumer activity.
Digital Transformation will redefine Businesses: The heavy dependence on digital technology means that people will demand effective delivery of digital services. They will demand better customer experiences. Business will change from merely selling products to providing holistic solutions. Requiring them to seamlessly integrate across complementary markets and form new relationships with businesses previously thought of as ‘the competition’.
Digital Transformation will bring about a change in Business structure: Digital transformation is a whole scale change for a business. As new digital technologies and services have made it possible for people work and play anywhere at any-time. People now expect the same from the businesses they purchase products and services from. Consumers want constant connectivity from the brands they have a relationship with.
For many businesses this is no easy feat. Businesses will need to be agile and responsive to change. To achieve this business structures will need to move away from traditional top down hierarchies towards a flat and flexible structure. The positioning of a business will be defined by when, where and how they interact with customers, suppliers and the community.
Change to survive the digital transformation evolution
Digital transformation requires significant organisational, cultural, operational and managerial change. Digital transformation must also be accompanied by certain fundamental reforms. Organisations need to embrace new ways of working and interacting with consumers. Adopting flatter organisational structures in order to become more agile and responsive; adopting more collaborative ways of delivering services to their customers.
Business leaders should realise that digital technologies are altering customer expectations. This is changing the way businesses define their strategy and run their operations. The questions they should be asking:
- How should we change to respond to this shift?
- How do we take the advantage of the new opportunities?
- How can we do this cost effectively?
The answers lie in adopting an agile and iterative digital transformation framework or processes.
Lead the Digital Transformation Process: Successful digital transformation is not a bottom-up approach. Rather, it is driven from the top. Many of the digitally mature companies have someone at the C-suite or vice president level who drives the digital transformation process. Managers of companies undergoing digital transformation must not simply analyse and communicate the benefits of digital transformation, they must focus on doing it!
Focus on How of Digital Transformation Rather than What: A successful digital transformation is one that focuses on the people who drive the change, rather than simply focusing on what is driving the change. To make this work there needs to be a compelling transformative vision that will empower the people. It would need to be a vison that recognises the “what” but communicates the “how” of delivering digital transformation.
Reshape Business Model: Most organisations are shaped around process-driven business models and they use technologies to enhance exiting operational processes. There is little or no interaction with customers. However, digital technologies are changing all that, and people are now better connected then they once were. Organisations are under pressure to reshape their business model and move from simply managing the business to increasing the customer responsiveness. Business models that involve customers will facilitate the improvement in product quality and the efficiency of service.
Consolidate Operations and IT infrastructure: An organisation’s digital capabilities depend heavily on its IT infrastructure. If an organisation has poor IT infrastructure and capabilities it will hinder digital technology adoption. Simply upgrading IT infrastructure will not necessarily support digital transformation. There needs to be a clear connection between IT infrastructure and business functionality. Organisations must focus on achieving IT cooperation and whole of organisation sociability to enable the execution of new digitally focused business processes.
Increase Transparency: In today’s era of eroding consumer trust and brand legitimacy, it is important for organisations consider transparency in their business models. Increased transparency will not only help businesses develop trust with their customers but will also help keep employees and stakeholders accountable for their actions – often neglected necessity for digital transformation.