By Jaco Van Eeden

Embracing digital technology is a new imperative. Every business today has to be digitally proficient. Most companies now recognise that digital matters not only for providing a digital edge, but also transforming business, operating models and connecting with their customers. Technology will eventually penetrate and revolutionise all products and services. The opportunity offered by new digital technologies is clear but the journey to get there is less so. Business leaders today are struggling to translate their digital initiatives into successful business opportunities.

According to a survey done by Gartner in the first quarter of 2016, 59 percent of the respondents felt that their organisation was not prepared for a digital transformation. As rightly put by John Hagerty, Vice President and distinguished analyst at Gartner, “IT professionals are unsure how their IT organisation will make it through any digital transformation. For some, change is coming too fast. For others, it’s not coming fast enough. Many know they need to change, to think and act differently, but they struggle with these shifts. Many find it hard to balance today’s demands — including simply keeping their organisation running — with tomorrow’s must-haves.”

Digital technology is available at our fingertips today. But despite being aware of this fact, we do not know how to exploit this technology efficiently for business success. Today, simply digitising services to connect with customers is not enough. Companies are unable to comprehend the correct blueprint to build a successful and sustainable digital business model.

So what are the hurdles that companies face today and how should they overcome them?

Support from top management – Internal engagement at the executive management level is of immense importance. Business leaders must clearly define and communicate with their employees and stakeholders what ‘going digital’ means to the company, how it can benefit them as a whole and individually and what impact it can have on the company’s financial performance. Today most digital transformation strategies lack a vision from top management and ultimately fail.

Focus on customer experience – A company’s strategy and energy should be aimed at really understanding the average customer, have real empathy, determine the unmet needs and their expectations, rather than just highlighting the kind of technology being offered to them. Most Digital transformation projects thus tend to become internally focused rather than focusing on the customer and fail. Companies need to ensure that they develop an emotional relationship with customers by using design strategy as an approach including innovation with extensive research, customer journey mapping, superior data analysis and predictive analytics, all working together for an enhanced customer experience.

The skills gap – Talent is the most important tool for a digital transformation program in my opinion. Highly experienced digital talent capable of leading a transformation is scarce. To be part of a digital transformation, one must be able to learn quickly, think out–of–the–box, and react to the unexpected. Companies often do not understand how important it is to hire the right talent for the right job because of the fear of change in systems and the divisions that might get impacted. To bridge the gap between technological and business worlds, one must thus hire and keep the right talent for a successful digital transformation.

Effective information management – Going digital entails bringing together the meaning and insights of huge amounts of information ‘big data’. This can get overwhelming and sometimes the biggest question is where to start? Tracking the right data for example customer 360-degree view, and then knowing the right metrics to measure, becomes pertinent to the success of digital transformation. It is critical to define the customer or employee’s experience network and journey, with the required data attributes that should be accumulated, tracked and associated in real time, as part of the foundation for digital transformation. Predictive analytics to enable superior customer experience is also a key area that needs to be defined to produce meaningful and measurable outcomes.

Enterprise readiness – ‘end–to–end design, technology and operations’ – The digital transformation necessitates the integration of IT and business strategies. While that is something most businesses understand, they lack the adequate integration of back–end technology operations with the front–end transformation to enable the right unified experience for customers and employees. It is imperative that business leaders and talent managers understand the importance of digitally aligning front–office to back–office across the entire value chain – design, technology and operations – with a clear focus on the customer’s experience.

Cyber security challenges – With digital comes the issue of a digitally safe environment. Data security is the most important aspect of this program. Cyber incidents/hacks have become common news today. Theft of intellectual property has become almost a daily talking point, whether it is by viruses or by piggybacking. Therefore dedicated focus and investments on identifying and recovering from an attack should be a priority to minimise damage and create resilience.

Digital transformation is a complicated exercise but it can easily be managed if the right digital strategy is in place. Leadership should develop a vision, share it and evolve it. They should create digitally modified business models with digital DNA embedded in the organisation. This is the time to innovate and develop new products and services that are primarily connected with digital synergies.

A successfully digitally transformed organisation is one that can deliver digital experience around products and services to create value and stickiness, transform technology and operations digitally, utilise internal digital and information assets as platforms, and accept that we all have to be actively engaged in digital innovation.
Digital transformation is not an option but an absolute necessity!

The author is Executive Vice President and Global Head, BEYONDigital, HCL Technologies.

Publish date: July 27, 2016 1:23 pm| Modified date: July 27, 2016 1:23 pm

Tags: , , , ,