What is Digital Transformation?

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Introduction

As any buzzword in the tech industry that comes with hype, digital transformation is no exception. We have many customers asking, “what’s digital transformation?” While it might be obvious to some, it’s still causing some confusion for others.

Why? Because the spectrum is very wide and it might mean different things to different people.

Some would think of this as simple as creating a mobile app to expand the customer base, while others would treat the digital transformation as a very meticulous and complex business & technical process. So, is it an app or is it a lengthy business process that leads to adapting the best of breed and cutting-edge technologies?  

Well- it’s a mix of both. Digital transformation is using advanced technologies to cut cost and create new revenue generation opportunities, and by doing so, businesses can gain competitive advantages in a very competitive digital economy.

So, how is this different than the past and how has it gained such a hype in a short amount of time? There are two main driving factors:

Technology Advances

Major technology advances such as mobile smart devices, cloud computing, and software development technologies made it easier to create systems. A fueled development evolution lead to a flurry of new disruptive technologies that really have changed the way we buy and deliver services and products.

Consumer’s Expectations

Consumers are now used to mobile devices, smartphones, e-commerce, and social collaboration with online referrals and incentive based loyalty programs.

Digital Transformation Trends

Below are some of the digital transformation activities that highlight how the process or effort can lend competitive advantages to the organization using advanced technologies.

Mobile Strategy

Currently mobile is an undisputed essential business channel that allows for  expanding or stabilizing a customer base and protects the business from losing customers to the competition.  Mobile strategy might seem to be all about creating an app, however we tend to forget about the backend process behind the app. Mobile strategy needs to be unified in a sense that the organization will not write backend code for every digital channel. Also those digital channels need to have a unified flow, branding, look and feel, otherwise the consumers will be confused and will not trust the brand. and more importantly, the online channels need to have a consistent business process and business rules.

Legacy Applications Modernization

An organization may have legacy systems, applications and valuable business logic and data. However those systems are unable to scale or provide a responsive environment to be able to cope with modern requirements. Those original legacy systems would be very expensive to rewrite and replace all at once without a significant negative impact on the business. So what’s the solution?

One strategy to use is to create a modern middle technology layer that would provide access to the legacy business logic while addressing availability, scalability and responsiveness. However this would only work to a certain extent that is limited by the legacy applications’ constraints. This is why the organization would be better off replacing the legacy applications with new ones, using a phase in and phase out approach.

Automation

Ah! The good-old dreaded spreadsheet! It will never be able to scale and will always cause operational delays and overhead. Time-to-market and how fast a business can deliver functions is not a luxury anymore. If manual operational efforts are causing the organization process delays, that means the organization is at the risk of losing to the competition. Now is the opportunity to get rid of those spreadsheets and automate manual processes.

Integration

Business processes are becoming more and more complex. This leads to some of the original service providers to choose to focus on specific areas and abandon other areas.This creates a business opportunity for a new service provider to jump in and fill in the gap. While this is a good thing for the service provider, the organization would have to bear the burden for integrating multiple services to avoid the operational overhead associated with manual integration. Every business needs to have a strategy on how to integrate with others, while allowing others to integrate with them, otherwise they will lose out on valuable B2B business opportunities. One approach is to adopt an innovative API management strategy that follows common and standard communication protocols to allow inside-out secure integration.

Social Collaboration

Social collaboration is merely about spreading the word. In recent years, social marketing and collaboration has entered new spaces, where building a collaborative community has replaced traditional business functions at very low cost. For instance, replacing traditional product surveys with user ratings and tying those ratings for smart inventory management. Another example is creating solid customer traction using loyalty programs with instant rewards that can work well on mobile devices, providing instant rewards. Online incentive based referrals are replacing traditional leads. All of these are available at a fraction of the what the legacy and traditional methods’ cost, freeing valuable resources to focus more on business development and sales efforts.

Advanced Transformation

Digital Assets

This is an advanced stage of digital transformation. The Amazon conversion from a traditional bookstore to the leading cloud provider is a classic example of this. Many organizations don’t realize their current processes and data are very valuable digital assets that can be cultivated to create many new valuable and sustainable revenue generation opportunities.  However, most will not be able to find a good starting point, or lack the digital expertise to be able to start the digital transformation journey or even capitalize on the existing digital assets. The best solution or strategy is to partner with a custom solution provider that can safely and assuredly build a solid digital transformation foundation that the organization can use as a launch pad to spring forward with their digital transformation innovative efforts.

Disclaimer

Those are my personal views and not representing the people I worked with, the companies I worked for, or my/our past and present customers in any shape or form. Any resemblance to real life use cases or situations is accidental and not intentional in any way, shape or form.

Hope this is helping some and again I understand other’s experience and views could be completely different than mine and I completely respect that.