Digital transformation enables ideas generation, collaboration, transparency and accountability. It has the power to break down barriers and silos to introduce new, forward-looking user behaviour which drives ROI.
The tide is turning
What do you want to achieve, and what are the required results of digital evolution? Concentrating on the goals and benefits for the entire business is key to your success.
The nature of business is evolving; end users are changing, employees are changing, the nature of sales channels is changing. Many business leaders are realising that a digital capabilities are critical to attract a new generation to ensure business continuity. Available tools and solutions facilitate technological and human interaction, creating an opportunity for leaders to re-imagine their businesses. In small and mid-sized businesses where technology wasn’t introduced from the beginning, the tide is turning.
From silos to collaboration
Moving from one extreme of a business with a traditional set up, to a multi-layered technological wonder is not the best approach. We see businesses chasing trends and focusing too much on deploying cutting-edge technology or creative solutions before they have figured out how, and indeed if, these will improve their operations.
Rather than developing a digital road map for the entire business, more commonly, individual teams and business units go ahead with upgrading/replacing legacy back-office systems by implementing new software and digital solutions, without coordinating with others. What is supposed to increase business productivity results in competing solutions and tools being used within the business with multiple sources of information. Because the applied actions didn’t deliver any visible benefits, and the workforce observes this, there is resistance to the new technologies. The wrong impression is given that digital evolution failed and is a wasted investment. The advice we would give here is to stop installing solutions which considers one problem in isolation. Focus on fixing all of the pain points and encourage collaboration between teams and departments.
Guarding against a narrow approach
Often having a vision and knowing how to get where you want to be, are two very different realities. When business resources are limited it is difficult to analyse the situation as a whole to allow the required enablers to be deployed. We know it’s easier for business to narrow down their focus as to where to apply digitalisation to avoid the complexity of working across the entire business, usually applying it to one specific area or function.
Implementation of narrowly targeted digitalisation usually means missing out on a valuable opportunity to improve the exchange of information between business functions. Businesses should therefore give more attention to activities that involve business groups and apply digital enablement that encourages interactions among them.
For example, real-time reporting between finance and production can help ensure invoices are produced promptly and accurately. An integrated digital solution like this will not only encourage collaboration but also unlock significant benefits by breaking down silos.
This approach ensures digital enablers can also encourage collaboration between businesses, smoothing communication between separate entities. To illustrate this point, let’s look at production. Defects have huge negative impacts on production, causing waiting times, unplanned reworks and increased labour costs, not to mention delays. Typically, feedback from a buyer to a supplier either doesn’t reach the right person because it was not fed through the right channels or it was unstructured, anecdotal and difficult to act on. The buyer, by allowing access to their system through a supplier portal, could allow the supplier to receive valuable feedback in real-time, allowing prompt action and reducing defects in the future.
These two examples show us another key point; that businesses can increase the likelihood that digital technologies will make a positive difference by first identifying operational changes that will improve performance, then defining digital solutions that will enable those operational changes.
In fact, digital technology enables business leaders and decision makers to edit the roles across business functions as it removes the traditional nuts and bolts from these. It brings the opportunity of freeing talent to focus more on creative and strategic thinking, critical analysis and innovation to augment business strategy.
Seeing the bigger picture, setting up realistic goals and concentrating on benefits allows businesses to implement digital enablement across crucial business areas. Experimenting with technology, despite the effort involved, won’t bear fruit. When completed with strategic excellence, digital evolution will yield tangible benefits, allowing businesses to scale up and obtain a leading edge. Businesses that are first to make a bold move gain advantages that slower-acting companies find difficult to overcome. There is real potential to become an industry leader but the time to start acting to embrace the future is now.
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