Someone wise once said: “The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air”. Maybe quoting the Elvish immortal queen is not the best starter for digital transformation, but there are few similarities.
You might share the feeling with Tolkien when his world has been irreversibly changing and outpacing the whole generation. However, like in each epic story, we must have an unexpected hero and the precious artifact. So, Frodo had The Ring Of Power and the Big 4 have Digital Transformation. What might be the implications of it to your business?
Let’s summarize the last five years. We had undergone a cloud revolution, we’ve been into an IoT, blockchain, and AI… and right now we are on the verge of a digital transformation. The Internet and social media have more #digitaltransformation tags than Trump votes, and Big 4 is harvesting profit on TOP 500 executives all over the world.
I am not the kind of guy who follows the latest fashion. On the other hand, if you are in the middle of the crowd, and everyone is running, it is better to take perspective and see what’s going on. And that is the reason I have started my research.
Every reputable consulting company promotes digital transformation, but the chart which grabbed my attention is the one below (thanks, McKinsey!). It is the best visualization I found, and I will treat it as an object of my further analysis.
Before we start, I would like to set your expectations a bit. The outcome of my work here will be an executive summary of my understanding of digital transformation followed by a few more detailed posts.
So, let’s begin. The digital transformation has four core components, based on each we can tell whether the organization is compliant with it or not.
Just ask yourselves how many times last week/month you dug into the dashboard? Yep – you have got the answer. In a digitally transformed organization, managers make decisions based on data and using advanced analytics.
Even though the statement is quite evident, the real challenge is with the reliability of data and availability of the tools for proper analysis. That brings us yet to another point – automation.
According to research, companies considered as digitally transformed (DT) automate everything that’s possible. You might think “why should I even bother with that if I have 40 people – it is easier just to hire someone and do it manually”? Because, automation makes your service: quicker, more reliable and ready to scale up without additional labor. Stay up – more of the explanation comes later on.
Connectivity? What does it even mean?! And yet it is there. A simple database with preferred vendors is not enough anymore. Right now there is a need to build seamless integration with the online community. The dedicated online community is a leverage allowing you to not only reach more customers with your products and services but also to let them be the part of the business building the new functionalities and upgrading your stuff – just like an open source.
If someone gave me 1 USD for each word “innovation” written or spoken in last ten years, Bill Gates would not be the richest guy in the world. Nevertheless, I believe this is the one thing I do not need to explain… Regarding current economic conditions and a relentless march of technology you will either innovate or go out of business.
Once we are done with obvious stuff, let’s move to some more advanced puzzles. Finally, we will have some corporate jargon :):
Do you gather potential customers via a web page? How many leads are from your social media (Twitter, FB or LinkedIn)? What is the percentage of sales generated from the sales team vs. digital media? If your sales processes rely mostly on sales rep, it means this is one of the very first issues to address.
Product and service innovation
I was honestly thrilled and got goosebumps. Now just think about it like this – instead of providing service (i.e.: building software) to your customer, you are building a platform with your client and launching it as service for others.
Distribution, marketing and sales
How do you find your customers? If your answer is “we don’t, the customer finds us,” then you’ve done it right. Scaling up requires dematerializing your sales team. If it sounds too blurry at this point, that’s OK, you will have clear guidance from me how to do so.
Smooth processes and no manual labor. If you hire a new guy, are accounts in your systems created automatically? Once someone leaves, do you have to remember about getting rid of the accounts and revoke access? What about external parties like accounting and vendors? Do they have access to your systems or do you have to copy/paste files and send them via email?
The key is an “automated control” – we can translate this to a “safety switch” at your company. The idea is nothing new for operating equipment such as machinery, processes in factories when the risk of damage is high, and action must be taken immediately. Right now, due to data collected with process automation, the concept is slowly shifting towards automated control of the company’s operations.
Enhanced corporate control
In short: looking into P&L or balance sheet once per quarter is not sufficient. You have to have a set of different KPIs based on the real data. Moreover, if you need more information or dig a bit more into it, you must have that option. Last but not least, the whole trend with data mining is now at stake. Yes, it is not science fiction, and yes, we (50 people in consulting) are doing that as well.
Digital transformation – time to get the ball rollin’
So now you have a glimpse of what the mysterious slogan “digital transformation” is. To make your digital journey full of adventures and to accomplish it with success – follow each of the 10 points, from decision making by customer experience and finally to the most “sexy” one – enhanced corporate control. That’s it for now, stay tuned for the next piece on creating new products. Have fun and see you soon!