A Holistic Approach to Digital Transformation 1/2

One of the key reasons why people don’t like change is because there is a fear of the unknown. What comes next and how will this affect me? The best way to deal with fear of the unknown is by making it redundant – a complete understanding of the change at hand and its implications. In the business world, no other change can come close to the mammoth that is digital transformation.
 
It may sound like an exaggeration, but your business would be at less risk if the economy crashed, compared to you not adapting to the new digital landscape. But like other phrases such as core competencies and strategic vision, digital transformation has entered the unholy realm of corporate business buzzwords.
 
It’s meaning may be diminished by frequent and improper use. Yet, business leaders need to take this concept very seriously. And that involves understanding the four aspects that underpin a successful digital strategy:
  • Technology
  • Culture
  • Innovation
  • Scalability
Through taking a holistic approach to digital transformation, business leaders will not only adapt to digital but be able to use it to catapult their companies far past the competition.

1. Digital Technology

Here’s a statistic that will make the most conservative business person tremble: $1.3 trillion will be spent on digital technology in 2018, according to a report by the IDC. This spending comprises a mixture of software, hardware, and services around technology such as IT consulting.

 

When thinking about digital, technological disruption is the most common thing that comes to mind. This makes sense as it is the advances in technology that drive other aspects of digital transformation such as culture, innovation, and scalability.
By no means a complete list, technology is ushering change in some key areas including:
  • Data
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Customer channels

Let’s take a look at the direction in which these fields are moving.

Data

The more we digitize, the more data becomes available.

 

Data is something that is permeating all aspects of our life – not just in business. You now have applications that track how much you walk, how good your sleep was and how productive you are while working. Individuals outside of the business world are using data to improve personal outcomes.

 

In business, we see how useful data is to decision making. Greater technology stacks can capture and measure business processes. Thanks to them, we can identify potential problems before they manifest and make more scientific decisions.

 

In the future, it will be a combination of making sense of the data available and deep domain intuition that will allow executives to steer the ship.

Artificial Intelligence

Perhaps one of the least understood aspects of digital transformation – artificial intelligence seems to consistently be hitting headlines.
If you’re not at the forefront of AI research, it’s hard to understand the complete implications of where the technology is at, and where it’s heading.

 

But if you haven’t already, check out this video of Google’s voice assistant to get an idea:

 

 

In a nutshell, AI is very good at completing and focusing on narrow tasks – usually logical and predictable in its nature. Tasks involving maths, statistics, data or crawling through bodies of text.
 
Over time however, AI is improving to be able to do more creative tasks. Writing text, improvising answers in a conversation and understanding human sentiment – there are no boundaries.
 
It’s a while off until AI will be able to think and mimic the complete abilities of a human. Still, don’t underestimate the short term narrow benefits that AI will have in your space.

Customer Channels

How you court, interact and convert new customers requires both a shift in thinking and an adaptation to new platforms. This is true whether you are a B2B or B2C company.
 
For companies who are more consumer focused, you need to understand the impact that social technologies are having on consumer-supplier relationships.
Now, if somebody is unhappy with a product the first thing they will do is put you on blast in social media. It’s impossible to hide poor business practices. This makes the phrase “the customer is always right” even more important.
 
In addition, social is a way that consumers use to cultivate who they are in a digital form. This includes what brands they feel represents them.
What this means for you as a business leader is that your brand is no longer a corporate entity. It’s a living, breathing person who is part of the customer’s life.

 

 

If your target market is other businesses, a strong social presence isn’t as important.
In this case, there is a shift from more outward focused channels such as calling and emailing to inwards focused such as content marketing.
 
The reason for this is due to the accessibility of information due to the internet. B2B buyers are more aware of their problems. Also, they have the capacity to search the internet and evaluate a variety of solutions – before even speaking to any particular sales rep.
What distinguishes companies nowadays is their ability to get discovered and provide value to the buyer through education and content. The value of aggressive sales tactics has diminished, but having a strong customer network is still important.

Culture, Innovation and Scalability

These three areas, alongside the cloud, mobile and unified communications are the technologies that are driving digital transformation.
 
In the next part, we’ll take a look at how these technologies are influencing an organization’s culture, how they compete in their market and the challenges of scaling with digital.
About the author

Sascha Grumbach

Sascha Grumbach, Managing Partner der Argopreneurs

Sascha Grumbach is managing partner of the venture builder Argopreneurs. He is an entrepreneur with comprehensive practical experience as a business consultant and project manager in innovation- and disruption projects.