All that glitters is not gold: Digital transformation in today’s age
In 2020, digital transformation is no longer the new kid in the block or something that can be put off to be considered in the next fiscal year. It demands a complete redesigning of an organization’s day-to-day activities and its interactions with its customers. Several boards of directors and senior management teams fall prey to the efficacy, innovation, and competitive reach that digital transformation has to offer. However, the path to transformation — like most major corporate initiatives — is a risky one.
The world began to change rapidly with the advent of the internet; and with the development of blockchain, big data, cloud storage, augmented reality and the all-encompassing Internet of Things, measuring customer satisfaction became the currency to outrank competitors in the digital medium.
Many of us confuse digital transformation for a new application or digital marketing strategy. Others regard it as technology-driven business process innovation. Digital transformation has come to mean all of these things and more. However, when a term becomes shorthand for so many different perspectives, it is stripped off much of its usefulness. If we are not on the same page about what digital transformation means to all of us then how do we ever build a meaningful strategy for future development. And how do we possibly align that strategy with our vision?
“Ninety percent of companies believe they have a digital strategy in place, but only 14 percent have the technology and skills needed to deliver that strategy.” - Des Cahill, VP and Head CX Evangelist, Oracle
While there is no doubt digital experiences enhance the overall customer engagement and provide more gainful ways to service customers, it does not necessarily equate to profitable experiences. Digital transformation is a planned disruption to what might be a perfectly functioning system. The first step to digitally transforming your processes is making an honest assessment of whether your company can connect the dots between technology and customer-centricity. Because at its core, digital transformation is about innovating business strategies for better customer experience in a way that drives growth for the company and rakes in revenue.
“Technology is important of course, but digital transformation is really about your business and how your purpose, strategy, and growth will survive amid a sea change of expectations from customers, employees, and partners.” - Diana O’Brien, Global CMO, Deloitte
However, driving end-to-end transformation, that too with a customer-first approach is a challenge to be sure. This is perhaps why most successful legacy organizations are reluctant to fully dive into the digital disruption. Their caution is understandable. Think about it: Most big public companies that have tried to completely refurbish their business model have gone under financial duress. Change is important but it is also fraught with uncertainty and looming danger of failure. A recent study by EY, states, the biggest challenge to digital transformation is not legacy systems; but the legacy mindset. In a blog post, Forrester Principal Analyst, Thomas Husson, similarly reflects, “Culture is the most important factor, way more important than technology.”
Experts opine, “big, risky moves” are not typically incentivized for CEOs who are intolerant to risky ventures and fearful of the corporate “change culture”. It can be difficult for legacy organizations to reimagine themselves through the lens of market needs, customer experience, analytics, and technology because they have reached a place of consistently profitable revenue generation which could be upended in a night with the introduction of a thoughtless new system.
It is imperative to think about digital transformation vis-a-vis business value creation not solely based on increasing sales, which may or may not mean profitability, or reducing costs, but rather on evaluating it in the context of increasing customer value. Since customer experience is a catalyst in many digital transformation projects, it is important to question why only a meager 23% of the world’s businesses have consented to digital adoption. The answer is a combination of several crucial factors like, lack of data privacy and security, inadequate budget, lack of right in-house skills and expertise, no vote of confidence from senior management and an absence of a clear digital strategy and vision that guarantees scalable results.
Too many companies have jumped in with both feet onto the digital bandwagon only to realize halfway that their business goals do not align with the new setup. A mistake like that comes at the expense of a lot of time, money and effort.
“The reality is, like any successful approach, if it was easy, everyone would do it.” - Glenn Laverty, SVP, Ricoh Americas Marketing, and President & CEO, Ricoh Canada
The trouble lies not with D.T. per se but perhaps with our lack in analyzing its absolute necessity for our business. In summation, there’s only one thing to be said, that, digital transformation may well be the fair-haired child of the digital world but it might not be for everybody.
Jai Thomas is Vice President – IT & Operations, DailyHunt
Disclaimer: This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributing authors and not of IDG Media and its editor(s).
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