For those of us that spend our days online, it may be a surprise that many businesses have still not jumped into the digital realm. However, digital transformations have finally become the norm with 82 per cent of CEOs now saying that have such plans in place, a jump of 20 per cent over last year.
Even the most traditional “old school” managers have finally come to the decision that failing to embrace digital will mean the rapid collapse of their business as younger and more agile companies creep into their space and steal their market from beneath them. Personal ties and years of trust that have kept companies going for generations are being rapidly replaced with cheaper options offered by competitors spread around the world. And if a company has not yet turned their attention to the digital world, they cannot even start to compete.
Digital transformation means making a company fit for the modern world with new relevance, revenue streams, and greater agility to compete in the global digital economy. It also means more data, and lots of it. But just generating vast amounts of data is no use to anyone, this data must be focused, privacy-respecting, and most importantly useful in constant continuous analysis that helps recalibrate the company to the rapidly changing digital world.
Actionable insights are key to any digital transformation, as they are the best way to know that the changes are working. Competitive advantage comes from companies being able to spot transformational opportunities before competitors, and this is where digitally focused
companies can really shine. Through artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotic process automation (RPA), digital-embracing companies can uncover and dominate entirely new business opportunities and generate the kind of growth than has only been possible since the advent of the internet.
These new insights are not wholly focused on the customer relationship. Every relationship within a business, whether with suppliers, contractors, or anyone else needs to be examined and re-analysed with all available data to make sure the relationship is as effective as it can be. Could delivery shipments be combined to improve efficiencies and drive down prices? Could a new services address a different but related pain point for your customers, creating a new revenue stream for much of the same work? Could your customers be persuaded to pay for longer contracts upfront to create a more reliable source of income? These are all questions that a digital company can answer with data analysis.
It would be great to be able to say to any company, that simply by turning their company into a more digitally-focused firm that better embraces data and new technologies, would generate immediate growth and protect them from market changes. However, in reality it is not that digital transformation will save every company, it is that without a digital transformation most companies will fail. And sooner rather than later as progress outpaces them and steals all their customers.
Data transformation is nothing without real governance
Data science and analytics are hyped terms in the modern economy, but the simple reality is that for a digital transformation to be a success, companies need to first address the issue of data governance. What is data governance? It is the blueprint of policies and processes that cover the lifecycle of data from its production through to its analysis and then archival. It is easy for companies to generate data today, but to make that data useful these data governance polices and processes need to be developed and implemented before the first megabyte of data is recorded. Such governance needs to be a core competence of any business that is going to rely on data for its future and whilst the data goldrush continues, it needs saying more than ever that governance should come first.
Photograph by Photo-Mix