Welcome to our four-part series on the topic of Digital Transformation or DT. This article is part one of the four-part series. The complete series should provide a robust look at this subject in companies across the globe and its urgent significance during COVID-19.
Are you and your team members suddenly Zooming in on one and other for work? Or how about Microsoft Teams play or getting together at a Google Hangouts? Even putting in some work at Facebook Workplace….
While it might have already been standard practice for working across your global teams, local teams are now in on the action. This is the new normal as we practice social distancing in a bid to slow the infection rate of the Coronavirus also known as COVID-19.
And while “the coronavirus, or COVID-19, paralyzes businesses and society worldwide, it’s tempting to backburner digital strategy amid the sharp uptake in business continuity and resiliency efforts. Don’t do that: Rather, accelerate business transformation efforts now to put yourself in a better position after the pandemic passes, say experts and CIOs” who spoke to cio.com.
“Companies should not abandon their digital strategy. Now more than ever, they should relook and implement.”
In one fell swoop, your day-to-day at the office became a meet-from-home at your screens. If this was not standard practice for teams already, then what did Digital Transformation look like in your business? And what will it look like when we all emerge from the thicket into the sunlight and fluffy white clouds?
To understand digital transformation, let’s go back to the beginning.
Definitions of Digital Transformation
In a paper titled ‘Digital Transformation of Business Models – Best Practice, Enablers and Roadmap’ published in the International Journal of Innovation Management 2017, authors Williams, Schallmo and Boardman weave a well-constructed telling of the beginning of Digital Transformation or DT.
Digital channels, products and services were already well accepted as means of mass advertising and communication during the 1990s and early 2000s.
“From 2000 to 2015, the rise of smart devices and social media platforms led to a drastic sea change in the methods customers used to communicate with businesses, and also the expectations customers had with regards to response times and multi-channel availability. Nowadays, there is a focus on mobile devices and on creating value for customers by leveraging the kinds of personalised customer data that mobile technologies can generate on a massive scale. Businesses are taking advantage of this personalised information and are able to better tailor their products, communications, and interactions to ﬁt customers’ speciﬁc needs.”
While the authors focus on business model transformation and open its history with companies using technology to deepen the connection with their customers, it is also interesting to note how global corporations view digital transformation. Look through the definitions below and then let’s clarify understanding.
“Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.”
“Digital transformation can refer to anything from IT modernization (for example, cloud computing), to digital optimization, to the invention of new digital business models. The term is widely used in public-sector organizations to refer to modest initiatives such as putting services online or legacy modernization.”
“Digital transformation is the strategic adoption of digital technologies. It’s used to improve processes and productivity, deliver better customer and employee experiences, manage business risk, and control costs. Digital transformation represents myriad tools, solutions, and processes. An effective strategy is one that’s customized for each unique organization.”
”Digitisation stands for the complete networking of all sectors of the economy and society, as well as the ability to collect relevant information and to analyse and translate that information into actions. The changes bring advantages and opportunities, but they create completely new challenges.”
Citrix provides perhaps the most well-rounded definition of what Digital Transformation really means in business.
Digital Transformation works to enhance and empower delivery inside and outside of the company. In the graphic below we see how digital transformation addresses these two key areas. This may or may not be currently happening in your business.
What is the difference between Business Process Re-engineering and Digital Transformation?
One of the most useful combination answers: Data and Culture
Business Process Re-engineering, generally credited to MIT Professor Michael Hammer and Babson College Professor Thomas Davenport in the mid-80s was promoted by everyone from technology vendors to consultants. The push was a radical and dramatic change to redesign and improve business processes. The result: Experienced as expensive and risky, the end of the 1990s saw BPR used as a synonym for other business trends: downsizing and outsourcing.
The growth of IOT and AI in the last couple of years has brought out Digital Transformation as a new lens to change in organisations. Why would it work over plain BPR? Incremental changes supported by systems like Kaizen and Total Quality Systems (TQM). Incremental changes mean considering that people are part of drastic changes applied to the process. Processes can be overhauled overnight. But people who make the organization tick need time to be brought on board and in line with driving this kind of change. Digital Transformation seeks to do that.
And data? Rather than simply re-engineer a process to save time and cut cost, the behavioural data gleaned from a process is used to power DT for better output to grow people and serve customers.
Why should I care?
Yashmita Bhana, CEO at Nihka Technology Group, has experienced DT efforts through the company’s works across SOEs, large corporates and global organisations. “Companies should not abandon their digital strategy. Now more than ever, they should relook and implement.”
This sentiment while positioned in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the globe is urgent in its request for companies to get fully informed on how digital tools can improve process, empower people and bring the best service to its customers.
But if a company has been through an enterprise resource planning system or retained a consultant and is still unsure about the results, what are the next steps? Find out in Part 2 of our 4 part series when we explore Tools vs Methodology of Digital Transformation.
The Nihka Technology Group is a South African technology company based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Group is focused on bringing the digital future to both the private and public sectors, locally and globally by delivering innovative, integrated technologies and intelligent solutions. Nihka offers end-to-end multi-dimensional consulting with an emphasis on integrating the human potential. Bringing EQ into AI. www.nihka.co.za