As companies try to overpower others and maintain their lead in the competition, they put their best foot forward. However, in the current business climate, the test for their survival and competitiveness rests heavily on digital transformation.
As a result, digital transformation is no longer viewed only as an option for ensuring a competitive advantage. It has become more than ever a requirement for businesses to survive and flourish.
Digital information in the current context of Industry 4.0 gives experts a clue of how things might turn out to be when organizations head to Industry 5.0.
Here is how companies will look at industry 5.0:
The 5.0 phase will add a human touch to the 4.0 pillars of automation and efficiency. People will work alongside machines and robots. Robots will help people work faster and better using advanced technologies (i.e., IoT, big data, etc.).
Digital Transformation Defined
The idea of digital transformation has been the subject of hot debates among analysts and thought leaders. The topic touches all companies in every industry.
Digital transformation is a wholesale action towards digitizing every part of a business, as every part of a business requires using technology to operate efficiently.
In the process of digital transformation, business owners and operators have different mindsets/interpretations about it:
These days, customers expect more agility, new offers, new features, high-end customer experience, etc. Thus, businesses must also be fast in transforming themselves to meet changing demands via digital transformation if they want to keep winning in the competition and getting a significant slice of the market.
Here are shining examples of embracing digital transformation across industries.
Nike Store in New York
Nike shows an example of turning physical stores into showrooms that allow customers to see products in person before making an online purchase.
The company acknowledges that the habits of customers have changed. Online shopping became the norm. Retailers offer mobile apps for online purchases. Brands communicate by using different channels such as emails, social media, and mobile push notifications.
Nike also knows that brick-and-mortar stores are getting into trouble, but they are not in any way afraid of that. Their modern flagship store in New York showcases the product in a showroom-style approach.
Customers can then proceed to buy their chosen products online and have them delivered to their doorstep. Therefore, the company’s new system has shades of being mobile.
Manufacturing: General Electric (GE)
Who would think that metal parts of jet engines or cars can be 3d-printed? But yes, many companies are employing the technology.
GE is one of the first companies that did not hesitate to toe the line. With 130 years of history and experience, GE took the lead and showed other manufacturing businesses that it is not afraid to use digital transformation. They produce the fuel nozzles of their passenger jet engines using 3D-printing technology.
Food Delivery: Domino’s Pizza
Food delivery seems to be a simple thing to do, and you can do it offline. Domino’s Pizza disagrees. The pizza giant allows the use of various devices and online channels.
Customers can order via a Smartphone, or smart TV, smartwatch, or by using the voice assistant of Amazon Alexa.
And not only to order pizza but also to track their order. The transformation makes sense --- a lot.
What steps does a business have to take for digital transformation? What are effective strategies for this? Here are some points you can start with:
Start small and slow
Transformations go with risks of resistance and failure. Thus, take small steps in introducing changes. You can then adapt the tools that would come later to changes that are already in place. You can start experimenting with apps like Slack, a communication tool that helps teams become organized and focused or no-code solutions that allow you to build and test fast. The new tools that will come in can be easily adapted later.
Align your business goals with digital transformation
If your goals are unaligned with the digital transformation you have in mind, it might become difficult for you to implement changes. Aligning changes with your goals also ensures that teams across your departments are always on the same page. It is necessary to keep everyone in the loop so that all stakeholders in your organization are in the know.
Update tools and technology
Your organization must adopt the latest technologies and tools. Do not become comfortable with what you are using and what you have now, and then resist changing your current tools. By exploring new devices and technologies, you can bring add-on features for your teams and ensure increased efficiency for them.
The Internet of Things is here, which is a key you can use to create innovative experiences. The system allows you to connect everyday objects to the Net, such as a refrigerator that tells you that you are low on food and order food for you.
Use the Internet of Things in your business to gather pace in your processes, get access to more data, intuitively manage and track inventory, and give your staff the ability to telecommunicate.
Embrace big data
There are myriads of valuable data available, but only a few know how to use it fully. Analytics tools, for example, allow you to understand how your customers behave, what they think about your brand, and how your market sees your business and organization.
There are many factors to consider if you want a successful digital transformation campaign. One of them is consistency. Each step you will take must be successive and calculated in advance. Thus, make a solid plan.
The plan should involve steps that cover innovative strategy development, architectural framework, practical execution, etc. The steps are the following:
Identification of objectives
Every organization has different transformation objectives and priorities. Identifying your goals early on is a vital step for organizational alignment. Your strategies can set the stake in the ground in terms of target outcomes.
Leverage technology enablers
Study available technology enablers that are operating in the market. One type of enabler that is always important is advanced cybersecurity. Emerging technologies should be secure right from the start. If they are not, they can cause delays in realizing their full benefits as users scramble to apply security controls.
Envision the future platform for digital tools for business
Based on your requirements, select a combination of technologies to help your organization achieve specific objectives such as:
Master the digital services lifecycle
Master this particular lifecycle that involves designing, developing, deploying, managing, and evolving your digital services. This skill will become a key component of competency as your business grows and while you build a sustainable and competitive advantage in the coming years.
Prepare for innovations
Be open to changes happening internally and externally. Your employees and organization have changing needs. Externally, your customers have to change their needs as well. Your digital transformation is an ongoing process that continuously takes into account these changing needs.
It may perhaps be instructive to test your plan first in a testing environment. Record your observation. If it works well in terms of productivity, efficiency, and saving, your organization is now ready to make your transformation project live.
Your company’s digital transformation may result in a self-service model that has a simplified process for customers. If this is your result, then you have been successful with your project and have eliminated several complicated processes (for both customers and your business) by implementing your digital transformation plan.
A couple of decades ago, digital transformation became a term in the business space where, at that time, it generally meant digitizing.
During that time, it seemed it was already enough for companies to be just more digital. Nowadays, this is not enough.
The challenge today is: Businesses need to leverage digital instruments to be more competitive, not just more digital. Business owners need to harness artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning (ML), and so on. This allows them to be proactive in the conduct of their operations rather than being presumptive or reactive.
After that? We can only surmise.
Technology is developing at a fast rate and faster than we can adjust to it. What we now know is: digital maturity is an active, moving goal. That makes digital transformation an ever-ongoing process for businesses and everyone.