As Chris Skinner recently discussed, digital transformation fatigue is causing some businesses to take their eyes off the customer. They’re making incremental changes for slight efficiency gains, rather than substantive changes that will improve customer experience and business outcomes. 

After 20 years of talk and little change, let alone ‘transformation’, digital transformation is in danger of becoming a meaningless buzzword. But the need to change is more urgent than ever. Here are eight of the most compelling reasons for companies to take action on digital transformation with fresh momentum.
 

1. Reduce risk and help customers quickly

 

The spaghetti mess of old, fragmented IT systems can make for sluggish procedures and a lack of data transparency. And while slight efficiency gains aren’t the real payoff of transformation projects, businesses simply can’t afford to respond to customers slowly in the high speed, data-intense age of the customer. 

Replacing or augmenting legacy systems with digital platforms can be a powerful way to improve the efficiency and efficacy of processes and reduce the operational risks associated with outdated technology. 

With cloud-based platforms now recognised as more secure and more effective than on-site systems, the argument for operational security and customer-friendly efficiencies is hard to ignore.
 

2. Go digital or get left behind

 

Digitisation is part of nearly all aspects of life. The digital economy feeds and is fed by the innovations that occur in the business sector.

Data, for example, is a digital commodity, which means systems and processes need reinventing to reflect this. And technological advancements such as increasingly faster broadband connections have blurred the lines between the physical and digital world. 

To succeed in the digitised economy, businesses need to be aware of these drivers:

  • 4G and 5G Networks and future iterative improvements (and latencies). These may open up new opportunities for the digital economy to expand, especially regarding countries like South Korea and Japan.
  • The widespread adoption of cloud computing, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS). The strengthening of the network of underwater cables across the world has given a platform for people to build cloud or internet-based businesses. These businesses are now leading digital transformation and innovation (think Salesforce, Amazon, Google, Stripe, Veeva, Workday).

With digital-first business models at the forefront of the world’s leading economies, the companies that get on board with the digital economy have the greatest chance of leading their industries into the future.
 

3. Stay ahead of the digital eight-ball

 

‘Future-proofing’ has become a common concern in the business sector, but at the same time, the rate of change makes next year’s needs difficult to predict.

Understandably, executives are keen to ensure that any digital transformations made now will be valuable in the foreseeable future. Companies want to keep up with the times while staying as close as possible to the technological advancement curve.
 



Even the most innovative technology provider cannot build something now, leave it as is and have a cutting-edge solution in a few years. With the impact of emerging technologies like AI and blockchain still becoming clear, it’s hard to say how the capabilities and our use of technology will change over the coming decades. 

The safest bet is to align your business with a platform-based, innovative, and trustworthy technology provider. The unsafest bet? Throwing up your hands and hoping for the best.
 

4. Let culture take the lead

 

A culture that thrives on change and continues to engage their people is well set to take on the digital transformation challenge.

Take, for example, the projects listed below and how they’re often undertaken in combination with a digital transformation project:

  • A change in approach to project management for product releases or software development; for example, from a waterfall to scrum and agile approach. 
  • Encouraging a start-up mentality, perhaps by starting a completely new spin-off company with its own management oversight so as not to influence the culture. IT leaders have shared their advice on making the shift.  
  • Introducing a culture of data visibility, transparency and accountability.
  • Implementing a lean management governance culture.
     

5. Get up close and personal with new technologies

 

Artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, robotics – the wave of new technologies to emerge from the Fourth Industrial Revolution is staggering. Their impact on entire industries and individual businesses made their uptake imperative and set the scene for digital transformation. They all retain huge potential for businesses to embrace, with their true impact yet to fully play out.

Companies that manage to seamlessly embed them into internal operations, services and products will be well placed when it comes to discovering new potentials and new revenue streams.

With 75% of customers expecting companies to use new technologies to create better experiences, the call to take a leap and make these new technologies their own is loud. 
 

6. Adapt when disrupted 

 

While these new technologies may not eliminate entire industries, they have proven to be dramatic disruptors. Just look at what Amazon and Uber have done with cloud-based technologies. Existing players across all industries have had to adapt, or they can risk being overtaken by more agile and innovative competitors. 

A commonly discussed subtopic within this area is AI-powered automation. There is still some wariness around the impact of AI and automation, but they hold massive potential for improving efficiencies and creating a new breed of careers in technology. 

Companies have to consider the implications of automation – whether for a simple use-case like auto-generating an upcoming contract for renewal or bringing efficiency and improved CX to marketing communications, or a complex one such as an end-to-end large-scale manufacturing process.
 

7. The customer is calling the shots

 

Our research shows that consumers are demanding more personalised, multi-channel, real-time, connected service. New technologies are ubiquitous in their lives and they expect the same levels of innovation from the companies they interact with.

The same applies in the B2B space, with 75% of business buyers saying that emerging technologies are changing their expectations of companies and 83% saying they expect better experiences because of them.

Customer engagement is ripe for digital transformation and an abundance of new strategic directions are possible. For example:

  • Using automated digital communications like chatbots to engage with customers when and where they like.
  • Employing AI-powered CRM so sales agents have the data insights to anticipate and respond to problems or requests before they arise.
  • Use of a lead management system to streamline internal handling of inquiries, lead handling and prioritisation.
     

8. Go digital for growth, compliance and value

 

A digital transformation can not only help a company grow at scale but can make meeting its compliance requirements easier. Dated structures and old systems that don’t integrate with new platforms, say with regulatory bodies, can put companies at risk of missing important deadlines or crucial changes in their industries. 

Robust digital systems are a requirement to meet these standards, proof of compliance and ease of reporting on them.

Investor direction or acquisitions, divestitures and mergers can also be a reason for digital transformations. A small or mid-sized company may look to make itself operationally attractive to prospective investors by implementing a strong IT strategy in support of business goals. 

These drivers should be enough for businesses to shake off digital transformation fatigue and approach the challenge it presents with fresh eyes and renewed urgency. 

For a deep-dive into the top trends transforming IT, download the Enterprise Technology Trends Report.