Without the right foundations, it’ll all come tumbling down.
Digital transformation can feel like a never-ending construction project – brick-by-brick, layer by layer; a new roof here, an extension there, repairs along the way. And it’s true, that transforming a company into an intelligent enterprise is a continuous project. There is no end point in sight. But with such fast-paced technological change swirling round each and every one of us – as individuals and as businesses – standing still will allow the rot to set in. Equally important is the fact that building too quickly and failing to construct adequate foundations first will result in an unstable structure that is likely to collapse. With the right digital architecture in place, faster growth is there for the taking. But only for those that have future-proofed their transformation into intelligent enterprises.
At the heart of this intelligence needs to be operational excellence. But these are not traditional operations as we know them. The way we work is changing dramatically. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, by 2030, automation and artificial intelligence will lift productivity and economic growth, but millions of people worldwide may need to switch occupations or upgrade skills. Far from sounding the death knell for us humans, this displacement is more about roles changing rather than disappearing altogether. People will be far less likely to have life careers, as they have done in the past, with college leavers having an estimated 10-14 jobs by the time they’re just 38-years-old – according to research by the Association of US Colleges and Universities. What’s more, 43% of workers will be freelancers by 2020 (Inc Magazine, 2017) – that’s just around the corner. This all points to more mobile employees, who have a better work-life balance, and in doing so are more productive. For businesses, it’s out with the old and in with the new….office, so say technology experts.
“How we work, when we work and where we work is being fundamentally changed by digital technology. Businesses need to adapt their working environments and practices to support and encourage flexibility, collaboration and innovation,” says Barry Matthews, ISG’s Northern Europe Managing Partner.
Within the context of this changing work landscape, the new business imperative is creating innovative digital paradigms – both internally, and externally. And that means applying dynamic models across the entire organisation. Doors should be closed on traditional, dysfunctional siloes and opened to innovation and creative flows. It’s about building a flexible ecosystem; one in which all stakeholders can thrive, thanks to collaboration and valued partnerships.
“Digital transformation is easy to talk about, but hard to do well,” adds Barry Matthews. “It requires a clear strategy built on four principles 1. Reimagining customer experience, 2. Empowering employees, 3. Maximising operational efficiency 4. Continually evolving products and services. Balancing these priorities as part of a coordinated transformation programme is the key to success.”
Businesses always need to keep up with the demands of both their customers and increasingly, their employees. By deploying new digital processes, you will not only deliver the best user experience for customers, but also for your employees. And that’s something that’s often overlooked by organisations, to their detriment. By attracting and retaining the right talent and using automation to allow people to focus their effort on higher-grade tasks, technology can supercharge your internal systems. Essentially, your back office needs to be as intelligent as your front office, and that boils down to how savvy your data strategy is – how you collect, and more importantly, analyse data. Data, in many ways, is the steel beam in your digital framework.
“It’s important to make sure that your investment in new technology increases productivity. Break down traditional barriers and create a truly intelligent enterprise that not only keeps up with the times, but is ahead of them,” says ISG’s Mr Matthews.
As digital architecture is put in place, it’s very easy for businesses to get excited about the latest tech fad, without truly understanding how it fits with their other building blocks. In these instances, new technology can become a burden. However, advanced tech should support your business to drive results, not drive you. It has the power to exploit opportunities and solve problems like never before, so long as data is collected and used in an intelligent way. How we leverage data to create on-demand businesses, meeting and even predicting the needs of their customers, is where technology advances are really changing the game.
Agility and constant readiness for change are therefore key, and this can only be achieved by sourcing the right partners, services and technologies. Against this backdrop, building and orchestrating a thriving digital ecosystem means you’ll have the strong foundations in place to propel your organisation to reach new heights and achieve greater success in the future.