Connecting Technology and Business.

Digital Transformation - Sustaining the digital transformation

The challenge. Digital transformation is a journey with many predetermined milestones along the way for organizations to ensure that they stay on the intended path throughout, but the destination is not a well-defined spot. As technology changes are dynamic, unpredictable and quick, so is the digital destination. This might have to be redefined, moved further and prepared for further transformations dictated by newer disruptions that will arrive in future. It is essential that at least the foundational digital skills are laid strong enough for expansion and changes that would be required later in the transformation path.

The approach. Enterprises must orchestrate their skills build-up around this transformation. It is essential that the organization has enough people who grasp the idea, can contribute to the cause voluntarily or otherwise and involve actively in the concentrated efforts towards the desired result. While it is desirable that the existing management and workforce in entirety come on-board, many organizations might not have enough people who would share the same vision and willingly stay on the well-defined transformation path.   In such cases, businesses must look outside for resources that are already skilled in technology and operations that align well with the transformation vision. Hiring might have to start at the top which in turn might help in identifying the right talent in the middle and lower levels. Some innovation might be required in the recruitment strategy and enterprises might have to cast their net wider for rare skills.

Training must be an integral part of the agenda to increase the digital awareness organization-wide. This will result in bringing employees up to speed in specific digital technologies. Organizing employee exchange programs across functions and locations and introducing reverse mentoring initiatives might yield quicker results. Building an enterprise-wide knowledgebase with documents, videos and do it yourself kits for existing employees and new hires would help enterprises simplify the learning path quicken the path for the staff to contribute to the efforts and results. A centralized digital platform that is accessible easily by the employees for any kind of corporate information and a seamless communication system that can bring people and information closer would make a big difference than the traditional approach.

A well-defined reward system must also be in place for sustaining the transformation and the structure might have to extend beyond corporate boundaries. Enterprises must also make sure rewards are more than financial - social recognition and executive-level appreciation might be other alternatives.

Partnering with organizations that might yield a synergic effect to the digital vision is one other option to be seriously considered by organizations that don’t have the required skillsets and resources ready. Acquiring businesses that already have skilled resources that can contribute to the organizational vision is another strategy.

It is also essential to build a close relationship between internal IT and the business so that they work in sync towards the digital goals. Results need to be measured, monitored, reviewed, course-corrected and iterated periodically to retain the pace and steer the efforts in the right direction. IT solutions need to be designed and implemented for such activities. Managing the enterprise strategic score card and driving the initiative-level business case and related KPIs are essential for sustaining the transformation.

Digital Transformation - Mobilizing the organization

The challenge. Motivating the senior management and driving the digital transformation is one thing but mobilizing the whole organization and on-boarding them in the journey is another and the tougher challenge. The enterprise needs to send clear signals and through as many channels as possible. The objective is to motivate the lower level employees to enroll themselves in this endeavor with zero or little force. Redefined policies and modified work practices must be clearly defined and enforced, and participation must be encouraged and rewarded. The goals and results of the transformation need to be transparently defined, and benefits clearly conveyed to the entire organization such that every team and every individual will contribute to the cause. 

The approach. The appointment of a CDO, a digital challenge thrown by the CEO that has a measurable result by a certain cutoff date, or the visible branding of the transformation in a large way across the organization such as declaring a digital year are some of the activities that will send clear signal to the entire organization that the business is serious about this transformation effort. The leaders must lead from the front engaging in digital transformational activities themselves and encouraging the team around them to adopt the new policies and newly set procedures. The transformation should be co-created with the teams shouldering the responsibilities together with the management.

New behaviors need to be standardized but enterprises must also allow the digital culture to evolve organically across the organization.  Digital champions who can liaison between the management and the end users must be identified in every department and team, trained and encouraged to help people around them to adopt the digital culture. Quick digital wins must be rightly identified, advertised and rewarded so that the whole organization is motivated and mobilized around the transformation efforts. Enterprises must make visible changes to work practices and institutionalize them. Adoption of solutions for transformation must be encouraged rather than just deployment.

Digital Transformation - Focusing investment

The challenge. Enterprises that aspire to transform digitally must have a keen focus on the things that are important, commit real money to fund initiatives and keep moving everything in the same direction. They need a clear vision and an action plan that highlights some of the major landmarks on their digital transformation journey while taking into consideration improved customer experience, increased operational performance and adaptation of the business model as the dominant objectives.

This must also translate into strategic goals that will guide them in building a roadmap of initiatives. These goals should not just be about financials but also in terms of customer experience, operations and building organizational capabilities. A strategic scorecard incorporating all these goals would be the basic template and a point of reference for the entire team. Recognizing the entry point is crucial. Enterprises must engage practitioners and operational specialists early in the design stage to minimize the traditional vision-to-execution gap. Design must focus on business outcomes, not technology. This roadmap can become the canvas of the transformation, but it must make allowance for iterations and course correction as the journey contains many unknowns.

The approach. Gartner recommends enterprises take a dual mode – continuing the traditional on one side while experimenting on the transformational model on the other, however, in small measures; a series of sprints – not launching out into marathons.

Building the right governance model is another area of focus. Appointing a digital transformation owner – a Chief Digital Office - who would steer all the efforts in a common direction amid a broad cross-functional set of stakeholders would make a significant difference.  The CDO can decide on the coordination and sharing of resources, technology platform, talent and data that will be needed among teams involved. The CDO would encourage standardization but also simultaneously encourage innovation. Other governance mechanisms like steering committees, digital champions and shared digital units would also help. Such units centralized with shared infrastructure like unified customer database, enterprise wide platform, advanced analytics teams or innovation labs would drive synergy across the firm.

Building the right governance model is another area of focus. Appointing a digital transformation owner – a Chief Digital Office - who would steer all the efforts in a common direction amid a broad cross-functional set of stakeholders would make a significant difference.  The CDO can decide on the coordination and sharing of resources, technology platform, talent and data that will be needed among teams involved. The CDO would encourage standardization but also simultaneously encourage innovation. Other governance mechanisms like steering committees, digital champions and shared digital units would also help. Such units centralized with shared infrastructure like unified customer database, enterprise wide platform, advanced analytics teams or innovation labs would drive synergy across the firm.

Funding the transformation is the decider. As most of the digital transformation journey would be across uncharted territory a pragmatic approach is needed. Doing a diligent cost benefit analysis that incorporates digital skill building, organizational change, communication and training would reveal the cost of the journey versus the business benefits projected. Foundational investments for core systems, platforms and tools needed for the launch, maintenance investments that are RoI driven and early stage innovation investments must be considered during the analysis. As these investments are speculative and returns are highly variable enterprises must take a test and learn approach.

Ignore these 9 tips to stay safe online at your own risk!

The risk. More and more hours are spent online by us as there is proliferation of devices, availability of internet connectivity and usage of apps for everything – from official work to personal use, social networking and entertainment. These require a login so that we can have a better experience. The devices and apps require creation of an account most of the time to log in so that we can enjoy a better experience – downloading files, accessing premium features or content or moving to higher levels in a game. We need to be doubly careful with our personal information so that none of it is accessed by the device builders, app developers and hackers.

Here are some tips to keep ourselves safe from risks to our information that lie online.

  1. Password. First and the foremost is to have a strong password – a different one for each of our accounts or a single strong password under a single sign-on system that cannot be easily guessed. Avoiding dictionary terms and easily guessable words or a combination of words and figures would be good methods when choosing passwords.
  2. Multifactor Authentication. We might have multiple email accounts – one or more official and many personal too. Most email service providers also provide a second authentication mechanism apart from a login name and a password. Making use of this multi-factor authentication feature will require the user to provide an additional authentication factor in the form of an OTP (One Time Password) received in a mobile device or in an alternate email or a phone call. This available in also most of the social networking apps too.
  3. Apps. We are enticed by a lot of apps that keep asking for permission to access our content – contacts and personal information in our devices. We must be discerning as to whether we need to allow these apps to access such information unless the situations warrant it. If we had not been paying enough attention here, it is high-time we revisited our apps and removed such privileges to the respective apps.
  4. Social Networks. Almost every information we provide when we create our social networking accounts and subsequently post in our name are at risk of being misused by the service providers and sellers interested in pushing their goods and services. Even our likes or comments to others’ posts are at risk of being monitored and accessed for dubious usage like targeted advertisements and offers. There are also recommendations from various sources that we remove our Facebook accounts so that we can protect our privacy. Others would have to go to Ad preferences option in such accounts to minimize risk of being spied by intruders.
  5. Personal devices. We must be careful when we allow others to use our devices in which we not only store a lot of our personal information but also login to access our various accounts. It is better to log off and allow them to login with a different profile / account in the same device. This will keep them from away from our information.
  6. Browsing history. Our browsing history and stored cookies must be deleted as frequently as possible to keep our personal information private. This will delete our search history, passwords and other vital information we provide in web sites and apps - probably for file downloads or registering for events and webinars. It will also be better to use the in-private browsing option in browsers when we know that we might have to provide personal information or search for confidential information.
  7. Temporary files. All files and content of temporary / short term value must be deleted as soon as it loses its relevance so that any private content is inaccessible from these sources. Files of permanent value and longer relevance must be backed up and stored in secondary storage devices or cloud services locked up with strong passwords.
  8. Phishing and Ransomware. Anti-phishing tools and software that will guard us from zero-day attacks and ransomware are essential these days to help us remain protected from hackers and attackers who are after not only our information but also information about others stored in our devices like phone numbers and email addresses.
  9. Wi-Fi. While connecting to Wi-fi networks, we must be very careful as to who is the Wi-fi provider and whether it is a public network. Public networks that allow you to connect without a password or those that are provided in railway stations and airports are risky connections. They come with an added risk of exposing our content to others connecting to that network. Deny permission to make your device visible to others in the network if you are connecting to unknown networks.

Digital Transformation - Framing the digital challenge

The challenge. Building awareness in the enterprise is the starting point to any digital transformation initiative. Transformation drivers from the top must put digital transformation at the top of the enterprise’s agenda. It is essential that people in the organization understand the scale and pace of the digital impact their industry is undergoing because of the disruptions brought in by the nexus of forces – Social media, mobility, information flow pattern and analytics and the Cloud. The creating awareness drive can gain momentum if this awareness process is made experiential.

The approach. It is essential to build a coalition of believers who can understand the potential impact of digital technologies on the business and the need and the urgency with which this transformation has to be pursued. Align the top team with this temperament will make things easier for the enterprise to drive this sentiment down to the last rung of employees whose participation would hasten the transformation.

Businesses need to identify potential threats and opportunities that they possess as an organization that will either contribute to or hinder the endeavor. Creating a risk profile containing the consequences that the business would have to encounter in the absence or slow pursue of this transformation journey would contribute to the overall support of the executives towards this strategic change in the business model. In most cases the CEO is responsible for roping in the senior leaders into the transformation team.

It is also essential that enterprises know their starting point in the journey. They need to measure how mature their digital competencies are, and which strategic asset will help them to excel amidst the competition.  Assessing the strategic assets of the enterprise and defining those that will be relevant in a digital world and those that won’t – physical assets, competencies, intangible assets and digital assets like data which in most cases would turn out to be a high value currency can set the framework for further acquisition, development or realigning of the resources.

It is also essential that enterprises know their starting point in the journey. They need to measure how mature their digital competencies are, and which strategic asset will help them to excel amidst the competition.  Assessing the strategic assets of the enterprise and defining those that will be relevant in a digital world and those that won’t – physical assets, competencies, intangible assets and digital assets like data which in most cases would turn out to be a high value currency can set the framework for further acquisition, development or realigning of the resources.

Enterprises should focus on their potential and the distance between where they are and their potential – not the distance between them and their competition. The executive sponsors who have grasped the reality of the digital transformation mandate would have to digitally challenge their current business model by craft the transformative vision and charting out the transformation journey. Unifying the company through a strong IT vision of the company’s digital future would be a sure step towards a successful digital transformation.

Digital Transformation - The strategy for transformation

The challenge. Digital Transformation is not a linear process. Many enterprises have already kickstarted a number of digital initiatives. Business compulsions and competition from outside might have been the factors for such initiatives but a coordinated and concerted effort to transform the enterprise from the traditional to a customer-centric organization requires much more than such disparate initiatives. Such a transformation would touch the vital organs of the business – Executives and employees, business processes and operations and even products and services.

Many business decision makers as well as technical influencers do not see the urgency to transform yet. The top management has settled down in the traditional style for too long and many decision makers are quite seniors in their field who had seen success in the traditional way that the mandate to transform gets little attention. It is an elephant in the room that nobody dares to deal with. They keep reacting to threats many of the times instead of shaping the future for their enterprise themselves.

The reality. Enterprises that aspire to transform use technology better than their competitors. They build not only digital capabilities but also leadership capabilities to stay in the right path during this journey so that the desired destination is reached with minimal obstructions. They may need to build skills in different areas and redirect their efforts from time to time. A joint research program between Capgemini Consulting and the MIT center for Digital Business recommends a comprehensive strategy for this transformation in enterprises.

Enterprises must first realize that the business scenario that they have been thriving on for so long is fast transforming into a digital oriented one. They must sense the real threat from outside in the form of startups and fast movers who are already enlightened on the role of digital to transform the way businesses are forced to go. The disruption created by digital technology is real and here to stay so that there is no choice but to jump into the bandwagon of digital transformation. They must do a deep dive into their existing capabilities and skills that would need course correction, development or rebuilding.

Enterprises must also focus on investment in the right areas for the digital transformation to be put on the right path so that it takes off and stays at the right pace. The whole organization needs to be mobilized towards the achieving of the pre-determined goals with the digital initiative from the top and percolating to the lower levels. Taking the organization together in the digital journey is essential and leadership skills are mandatory for this journey to be successful. While there might be various milestones in the way, enterprises should have a clearly defined destination in this journey. Some of the milestones might be reached sooner than the others but sustaining the transformation throughout and well beyond the perceived destination is essential as the business environment is set to see more disruptions than ever.

Digital Transformation - Uncover new revenue models

The challenge. There is a real undeniable threat by startups to the established businesses that have been ruling the market for centuries. The traditional business models are losing relevance today. Businesses can sell products that they don’t produce, can provide customers with services that they don’t directly offer, and many are moving away from selling products to selling product based services.

Customer preferences keep changing and the value they expect from goods and services that they consume is increasing. Technology is contributing hugely to this shift in customer sentiments. They want to connect to their brands through the smart devices that they hold in their pockets. They are willing to pay for the additional value they get from such systems that bring them closer to their service providers.

The reality. Thankfully, technology is contributing heavily in adding greater functionality to improve the worth of products and services that enterprises offer today. 50% of new business processes and systems will incorporate IoT in their products by 2020 and 25 billion connected “things” will be in use by then. There is also a change in the way employees look at this transformation in customer expectations. 41% of employees say mobile business apps are already changing the way they work. 40% of survey respondents say predictive analytics held the most potential to predict business events.

Enterprises can now create new revenue opportunities with intelligent technology that spans across systems. The Cloud offers larger avenues for innovation and holds the power to uncover possibilities that remained dormant all along. Data that once used be stored for compliance purposes are now being put to greater use through analysis and interactive visualization for decision makers to create new roadmaps for products and services like never before. Predictive analysis helps them look ahead and track market dynamics and change in customer sentiments.

Digitizing the enterprise can transform business practices and enable re-designing of business processes to stay ahead in the marketplace. Businesses need to re-invent products and services and deliver new market offerings that caters to customer needs.

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Digital Transformation - Using technology to drive efficiency

The challenge. 81% of medium businesses say that technology solutions could help improve business outcomes or run the business better. Meanwhile, technical decision makers agree unequivocally that there are two technology challenges that top the list – implementing new solutions or upgrades & containing technology costs. And both are seemingly at loggerheads. As the technology landscape keeps changing by the minute today, even newly installed solutions lose their relevance very quickly. Unfortunately, many conservative enterprises are still stuck with their decade old legacy systems. This results in compromised security, efficiency and productivity. Businesses reported a 34% increase in financial losses ($2.7M) due to security incidents even in 2014. Today, with the advent of sophisticated threats targeting enterprises, the impact is much higher.

The entry of the Cloud has brought a radical approach to this paradox. 87% of midmarket BDMs say Cloud solutions would help the business grow.

The reality. Enterprises can drive maximum business efficiencies with flexible, intelligent technology. They can capitalize on the IT investments already made for on-premises solutions by tweaking them to sync with the challenging requirements of the business. The cloud can come in as a less costly alternative when new needs arise in the system. Moving critical workloads to the cloud could also mean greater scalability at reduced costs. A hybrid setup can bring flexibility to the system by allowing administrators to weigh and choose the better option for their mushrooming needs.

Enterprises must realize that the greater the investment in digital the simpler it gets to manage and run the business. Less systems to maintain and more freedom to expand (or contract) brings in a desirable flexibility. Aligning IT with the business process with the help of a DevOps team would optimize business processes, enable more efficiency and faster decision making.

Going digital also ensures business continuity and improves security and protection against unexpected interruptions, data loss and modern security threats.

Optimizing operations involves digitizing corporate functions and developing a digital culture all around the enterprise.  A state of the art Enterprise Resource Planning mechanism is essential for minimizing wasted hours and financial resources. All efforts must be focused on maximizing the business benefits derived from IT Projects. Minimizing clutter in IT would lead to fewer systems to maintain and less cost to keep it running – a lean IT. Service operations need to be digitally streamlined to produce the greatest value by reducing response time and increasing agility.

Digital Transformation - Anywhere anytime productivity

The challenge. More than half of the workers in midmarket enterprises require access to company data. A survey says that on an average 14 types of mobile apps are in use in small and mid-size businesses but only 13% of such businesses are fully prepared to handle security challenges especially related to mobility. This has resulted in an increase of 23% of the cost of a data breach on an average. And the average price tag per breach is nearly $3.8M.

The reality. Empowering enterprise with mobile and cloud technology is essential to survive in this cut-throat competition economy. Productivity increases exponentially when people work together in teams seamlessly. A well-connected enterprise is bound to lead digitally by bringing people and information closer and making them easily accessible to stakeholders by breaking geographical and traditional boundaries. Setting up multiple communication channels to improve connectivity between individuals and data sources increases the potential of the decision makers to arrive at informed decisions.

Freedom to connect to the enterprise information from anywhere anytime boosts the confidence of the staff. Many enterprises see faster sales closures because the employee on the field is able to connect real-time with their colleagues and access information about products that tend to get updated dynamically.

With the increase in the number of devices handled by people, it would only be wise on the part of the employers to allow them to use one or more devices of their choice to connect with enterprise data. Connecting on the go would give them an added advantage to participate in strategic discussions and decision-making session from remote locations. Mobile apps would help them focus on their work anywhere they are. Visualization of data and interaction with the data models would help them dig deeper into the relevant data points would provide them a clear advantage while negotiating deals.

With the advent of the cloud, employees don’t have to get stuck to their work cubicles. Cloud empowers them with mobility and freedom to move about and get closer to their clients and customers. Cloud has thrown open possibilities of reaching out to customers breaking geographical and market boundaries.

Inherent with the increase in mobility is the risk of exposing enterprise info in user devices which might be pilfered or mishandled carelessly. So, it is essential to protect business data wherever it goes and safeguard it from unauthorized access and modern threats. Governmental regulations also require customer data to be kept confidential and that only for a certain period of time until the purpose for which it is collected and stored is met.

Digital Transformation - Connect Better with your customers

The challenge. A survey says that small and mid-sized businesses using a sales management solution see a boost revenue by about 86%.

Nearly 80% of sales people report that implementation of a CRM solution increases in customer satisfaction levels and one every two enterprises see significant improvement in customer retention and satisfaction.

The reality. Acquiring new customers has always been a big challenge for enterprises. Marketing teams that are launching out to new markets and customer segments need to gel well with their sales teams to come up with successful campaigns to successfully penetrate an already saturated and competitive ecosystem. A scalable and dynamic collaboration model that can collect inputs form the field needs to be in place to make such strategic moves.

Businesses have realized that it is much costlier - nearly 7 times - to acquire a new customer than to retain one. Some also dole out additional discounts and design personalized offers to an individual or a group of individuals who satisfy some simple criteria to create stickiness and increase brand loyalty. This again requires enough data containing the purchase history and preferences of the customers. A seamless customer bond needs to be built with them if we are looking at a long-term relationship. Profitability of a business in directly related to the success with which a business can retain its customers.

Modern enterprises need to create more touch points and improve interaction with customers in order to analyze their sentiments towards their products. What they feel about the usability, price and quality is to be collected as feedback so that the product or service that the customer consumes undergoes the required correction. This feedback mechanism closes the loop in the interaction between the enterprise and the customer.

Designing sales campaigns and personalized products would require data about the customers. This can be achieved internally by implementing a sturdy Customer Relationship Management solution that can gather and maintain not only basic data but also updated information about the customer.

Automation of the sales processes and streamlining of customer data to effective channels for dynamic consumption would be essential. Teams that interact with customers either from remote locations or face to face require this information so that the discussion can be healthy and product pitch perfect. When there is an effective collaboration atmosphere for the marketing and sales teams, productivity is bound to increase, and sales outcomes would turn out to be positive and predictable.

Another important aspect of building confidence in customers is to ensure that the data acquired and stored about customers is kept private and safe. None would want their personal data to be misused for purposes other than what it is intended for. Nor would anyone want their data to be retained in systems that are open to vulnerabilities. Securing apps, data and networks within which they are shared is the responsibility of the enterprise to ensure privacy and safety of this data.