One of the most commonly heard phrases in business at the moment is that we are facing into a fourth industrial revolution – this time a digital revolution.
While it’s crucial for businesses to be prepared for the changes they’ll face in this environment, they need to take some of the noise away from what they’re being told. We already know that 69% of Irish SMEs plan to invest in technology in the next 1-5 years. And there’s a vibrant market ready to sell to them. There is no shortage of companies shouting about how they will revolutionise your operations and business model but the truth is that many are light on the details of what they will actually deliver.
Because of this, you could argue this is a golden age for the snake oil salesman. So how do businesses navigate this maze to develop a proper implementation strategy for digital transformation? Here are three key points to bear in mind.
First, any focus on strategy has to be customer-led. Many cloud adoption and digital strategies are driven by the technology being implemented, but if they don’t fit the company’s strategy, products or customer life-cycle they’re doomed from the off.
Nobody (well maybe a small few!) buys a lawnmower just because they like lawnmowers - they do it because they want short grass. Likewise, when you decide on the systems that will enable your business’ digital transformation it is imperative that they address a tangible business need rather than being a new shiny bauble. Neither staff nor customers will thank you for it otherwise.
If instant messaging is impractical because your team is all in one place then maybe that’s not something you need, but what if it allows your front and back office teams to communicate while dealing with a customer at the same time, speeding the process up? Well then it’s a feature your solution really should have.
Analysing the data
The second issue, and this is a key one that often goes under the radar, is the importance of utilising the data that is provided through new systems and platforms. As the Silicon Valley maxim says, there are two types of companies in the world - data companies and data companies that don’t realise it yet.
When companies implement digital solutions they often use analytics to focus on operational concerns such as call handling times, response rates, efficiency metrics, etc. While companies can leverage these for short term benefits, having the right analytics capability in place can uncover the hidden voice of the customer and inform marketing, proposition development and future improvements to systems and platforms.
Missing this misses the real value of digital transformation so it has to be a key focus when deciding a course of action.
The third and final area of focus is knowing where this choice leaves you within your industry’s value chain. In an increasingly digitising marketplace the product or service being provided will begin to own an ever diminishing share of the available margin in the market.
The more value-add services a company offers, and particularly services which can feed an analytics capability, the bigger slice of the pie they can secure. Through creating and using greater flexibility in how they work companies can open up new markets, both domestic or export focused. They can even open up significant opportunity for value add services that they would have potentially missed out on, or not have had the scale to offer.
In short, before embarking on any sort of digital transformation a business needs to have a key sense of its priorities and the voice of the customer. They can then ensure they put the right plan in place and have the right capabilities around the solution to let them really leverage it to the fullest possible extent.