Digital Transformation: Don’t overthink it – Get Started!

07 August 2017

“It’s far better to create your own future, repeatedly, than to wait for external forces to dictate your choices.” –Jim Collins

Digital Technologies like social media, mobile, and analytics are advancing rapidly. These rapid advances are giving birth to enormous new opportunities for startups, traditional businesses, and entrepreneurs. For instance, social media offers the opportunity to listen to unmediated customer voice, mobility helps design engaging customer experiences, geolocation sensing creates personalized offerings, and analytics uncovers insightful patterns.

Digital Transformation: The Challenge

At Suyati, we are experiencing this buzz and excitement first hand, as a growing number of companies are reaching out to us to figure out ways they can harness their digital potential. These companies are looking for digital solutions tailored to their existing workflows, business processes, decision-making methods, and digital infrastructure. In addition, most of these companies have already attempted to execute silo-ed digital experiments in different business units like marketing, production, manufacturing, and supply chain. However, the challenge they outline is that these silo-ed digital initiatives often fall short of delivering the promised competitive advantage.

In most cases, the root cause of this is lack of data flow among different systems, limited collaboration, and varying business priorities of different business departments.

Successful digital transformation requires seamless data flow, communication, collaboration, and coordination among different business units within any organization in order to have significant impact in any of the following three major digital transformation focus areas:   

  • Transforming the customer experiences via technology
  • Transforming the delivery and execution of operations via technology
  • Exploration and creation of entirely new business models 

Having said that, our experience in working with myriad technologies across industries gives us the edge to offer our clients the right recommendations on their journey towards complete digital transformation. 

Read: Speeding up Enterprise Digital Transformation with IoT 

Data Backbone

In most of these cases, our first recommendation to clients is to “Focus on creating data infrastructure to facilitate seamless data flow among different systems, before accelerating and aiming for big bang digital innovations.” This early caution may sound counter-intuitive in today’s competitive and fast-paced world; but we believe that in the long run, this initial focus on building the right foundation is extremely critical to launch scalable digital transformation projects.

In a recent book on digital transformation called “Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation”, authors George Westerman, Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAfee have highlighted the following aspect behind the digital success of Burberry, a leading luxury goods brand:

“Prior to this wave of digital innovations, Burberry had spent several years implementing a backbone enterprise platform to consolidate its systems and make its global operations transparent.”

This upfront investment, in order to ensure that the business has a single and unified view of its customers, has helped Burberry in designing data driven personalized shopping experiences for its customers, based on their purchase history, personal preferences, and fashion inclinations.

Start Small and Don’t Overthink

We also advocate “Starting small, without worrying too much about scale, benefits, and returns.” The possibilities of technology can be limitless; and the tales of digital disruption can be overwhelming for a business that has aspirations of digital transformation.

The following excerpt from a recent Forbes article by Julien Birkinshaw aptly highlights the frenzy around disruption:

“Every startup wants to disrupt the established order. Every incumbent is scared of being disrupted. Disruption is a rallying cry or a bogeyman, depending on where you sit. And no one is immune : if an executive dares to suggest that their industry is free from the threat of disruption, they are accused of being short-sighted or in denial, and heading the way of the Titanic or the T-Rex.”

If your company is traditionally-run, large and burdened with existing legacy technologies, it can be even more bewildering to figure out the right place to start the digital transformation journey. We have worked on several digital transformation initiatives across diverse industries like publishing, retail, healthcare, banking, e-commerce, etc. and we what has worked for our clients is for us to identify a digital transformation opportunity aligned with the wider organizational goals.

Digital Transformation in Retail-II

For instance, if you want to grow your business’s customer base, then setting up an effective lead generation process can be a starter. If you wish to reduce customer churn, then a customer experience redesign may add value. If you intend to focus on increasing margins, deployment of digital technologies to produce operational efficiencies may fit your need. In all these cases, the most viable path for businesses is to start small and learn from incremental experiments in the early stages rather than falling in the classic analysis paralysis trap or searching for the best digital transformation strategy to succeed.

We must understand that there is a significant difference in the “Digital world of bits and the real world of atoms. The world of bits offers a unique ability to design, experiment, learn and redesign; and businesses that execute successful digital transformation usually leverage this ability more effectively, compared to the businesses that find it difficult to survive the digital disruption.

If your organization is at the threshold of digital transformation, ask us about Mekanate – a suite of services that can help you realize your digital transformation dreams.  

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