There can be no denying that digital innovation is changing the world of business at a rapidly accelerating pace. It isn’t just technology-focused companies that are feeling its effects, though. Organisations of all sizes and in every industry are becoming increasingly dependent on technology, and it will be those that embrace the change that go on to thrive in this new digital age.
We wanted to explore the benefits that businesses are feeling as a result of digital innovation, as well as to understand the challenges that they’re facing. So, we brought together a roster of industry-leading experts for an event in London, to share insights and learnings that they have acquired on the frontline of this revolution.
Together, we discussed some of the ways that technology is influencing disciplines such as marketing, business strategy and customer experience, and theorised where the next step of our digital journey will take us.
Here are just a few of our key learnings.
1. Digital transformation is well underway
To better understand the challenges associated with digital transformation, we carried out a new survey, in which we spoke with our contacts throughout EMEA about the existing technology that they have in place, the scope of their digital transformation strategies and the obstacles that are standing in their way.
While we were pleased to find that the majority of companies are working on a digital transformation strategy, we were surprised to find that as many as one-in-five (19%) have no digital plan or roadmap in place. As businesses become more reliant on technology, digital transformation will become a necessity; not an option. Therefore, those that haven’t yet begun work on a digital strategy need to do so right away.
2. Digital transformation requires more than technology
It goes without saying that innovative technology is at the heart of any digital transformation strategy. Whether it be a case of automating processes, improving customer experience or migrating a server to the cloud, without the latest technical developments, there would be no transformation.
There’s more to digitising an organisation than simply having access to technology, though. Implementing a digital strategy requires co-creation; when all areas of a company come together to create an innovative, engaging customer experience. The sign of a strong digital strategy, therefore, is that all areas of a company have collaborated to make it a success.
3. Digital transformation improves collaboration
In any workplace, the ability to collaborate effectively is essential. While many businesses might see digital transformation primarily as means of innovating the production of goods and services, it also has great potential to break down walls and improve communication within a team.
For instance, in many offices, messaging systems such as Slack and Workplace are becoming a popular alternative to email; just as file sharing via the cloud is becoming an increasingly common alternative to using attachments or repositories.
These are changes that help everyone. Reducing the amount of time spent emailing or carrying out admin helps employees to make quicker decisions and collaborate more effectively as a team, which ultimately makes an entire organisation more productive.
4. Digital transformation requires both creativity and analytical thinking
With the vast amount of data that organisations are now housing, it’s true that achieving digital transformation requires the best possible analytical facilities. Agents and bots, for example, are able to monitor, track, search and classify vast banks of information, but it takes a great deal of creativity for leaders to extract patterns and identify real opportunities from these results.
Some business owners might be surprised to learn that creativity is crucial to the entire process of digital transformation. Depending on the scope of their digital strategy, organisations might be planning to overhaul a significant part of their existing business model, and with it, a large part of their company culture. Analytics are certainly a valuable tool in ensuring that this procedure is successful. It also becomes a question of design though, and one that ultimately requires a huge amount of creativity to get right.
5. Digital transformation is a long-term commitment
While we are pleased to see that the majority of businesses are already hard at work on their digital transformation strategies, it’s critical that leaders understand it won’t always be an overnight process. There are certainly some quick wins to be enjoyed, especially where agile and lean methodologies are involved. The changes that a business might undergo can be significant though, and it can sometimes take months – if not years – to implement.
For a digital strategy to be a success, leaders must commit to a detailed, long-term plan. If the goal of their strategy is to turn a significantly increased profit, they might not feel the effects straightaway. But as we explored in London, digital transformation is not all about financial gain. It’s an ongoing process that has the potential to improve business functions, foster greater collaboration between team members and keep pace with a rapidly evolving world.