Connecting Technology and Business.

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.

The four pillars of Digital Transformation

The challenge. The sole driving force of enterprises to transform digitally is to put the customer at the heart of every activity in the business.

Customers determine the success and leadership of an enterprise. And customers are now becoming tech savvy rapidly with the availability of cheaper devices packed with digital power. What was a distant mirage for the common man has landed in his hands with little effort from his side. Apps that span from e-commerce to health monitoring to entertainment apart from official collaboration are available for free or at an affordable rate. Most of these apps are provided by sellers to increase touch points for gathering data and feedback from their customers. Valuable inputs from customers can help enterprises design a very personalized experience for customers. Targeted marketing campaigns can be created for very special category of customers to promote stickiness and to improve brand loyalty.

The reality. With the increase in complexity in organizations due to rapid growth in staff and exponential growth in information, there is a need to create a conducive atmosphere for seamless communication and collaboration. Today’s business scenario requires enterprises to remain agile to changes mandated by customer behavior. And customer behavior is unpredictable and highly volatile. Empowering employees with the right kind of platform and tools to collaborate and connect better is essential to address this challenge. Establishing more channels to bring people and information closer in an enterprise will pave way for better decision making and customer retention. Anywhere anytime access to the enterprise resources through any device will improve mobility. Democratization of information with actionable insights will place seamless power in the hands of the relevant people to cater to the need of the customer dynamically.

Enterprises have organically grown internally but not all functions and departments are well knit together as a fabric to function in unison. Ad hoc projects and committees that mushroom time and again result in horizontal expansion that operate in silos creating real challenge for effective governance and control. Enterprises might lose focus on customers and their needs when firefighting happens internally to contain the challenges in running the organization. Teams that function in geographically separated locations are prone to remain isolated from the overall functioning of things in the enterprise unless there is an efficient collaboration mechanism. Optimizing these operations would result in functional and operational teams working together to pay increased attention to the customers’ needs.

Trends are changing today with consumerism calling the shots in enterprises. Established businesses are finding it difficult to keep up with the changing behavior of customers. They are just one mouse-click away from losing a customer forever. Flagship products are losing their relevance in this changing world of varied customer preferences. Startups are ruling the day with their innovative products and enterprises are forced to package their products as services to remain competent and retain customers. Airplane engines are replaced by air times. Capital goods are offered as subscription services. Real estates are let for rent rather than being sold. Taxis are hired instead of cars being bought. Banks operate with literally no physical presence; room-stays and holiday packages are available with no property owned; content is proliferating while nothing is originally created; Food lands on the table from virtual kitchens. Customers want all of these in the comfort of their homes and work-spots and in their familiar devices that they carry day in and day out.

Digital transformation is both inevitable and mandatory

The challenge. The economic environment is undergoing the 4th industrial revolution with the advent of new technologies brought about by the nexus of forces – Social media, mobility, Information pattern and the Cloud-  as Gartner puts it.

What started as an internal networking tool for students at Harvard 13 years ago has grown into a $525 B enterprise called Facebook. It has more than two billion (two hundred crore) monthly active users as of June 2017 – nearly one third of the world population. Twitter has nearly 280 million users and it is only growing by the minute. Instagram has 150 million users sharing their updates and photos every day. Social media is here to stay and becoming more powerful by the second.

More and more hours are spent online by people 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.

Availability of data connectivity almost everywhere has resulted in people accessing the internet from anywhere anytime through any device. Mobility of employees has increased manifold as people have started using multiple devices in contrast to a desktop being shared by more than one person some years ago.

The arrival of the public cloud for enterprise consumption has turned the game against investing for technology in millions upfront. And the huge resources that the cloud can now bring to the enterprises has resulted in increased use of digital technology for business purposes like never before.

The availability of huge resources on the cloud has also favored the exponential growth of data – not just in the form of files, mails and structured data but also in the form of continuous inflow of digital data from various embedded devices called the Internet of Things – the emergence of web 3.0 that now captures data from every user and device connected to the world-wide web.

The reality. The coming together of these forces has ultimately brought in a disruption to our normal way of working in the enterprise. All efforts to keep employees from the social networking sites have failed, enterprises that fail to provide mobility to the staff have started lagging behind, maintaining an on-premises infrastructure has become a huge challenge and providing infrastructure to capture, store, manage and safeguard huge data inflow has become costly.

Enterprises are now forced to look at these challenges in a different angle – putting these forces to work for the growth of the enterprises rather than to shy away from them. As a survey predicts, 25% of the world economy will be digital by 2020. So, a significant number of enterprises have already launched out to capitalize on the opportunities they see in this disruptive environment. Non-starters and late comers face the risk of being left behind and getting lost in these times of change.

Digital Transformation – Buzz word or reality?

The challenge. The third industrial revolution flooded in the digital technology and pervaded every desk with a desktop or a laptop. However, this took nearly a quarter of a century to make a man’s dream come true. But here is the deluge – the fourth industrial revolution that tries to bring digital in every realm that man has set his foot on. The volume and pace with which this has invaded this planet is unprecedented.

While technology promised a lot triggering huge investment by enterprises over long periods, the results had always remained a mirage for decision makers. A major reason for this might have been because of a lack of a unifying vision across technology deployments. Another reason might have been the lack of seamless information flow for businesses to make intelligent decisions. Data kept flowing in in bits and pieces, from various silo systems and in disparate forms that contributed little to the enterprises for sustenance and growth. Various functions in the enterprise could not harvest actionable insights from business data that had been accumulating over the years. The data just remained dead in systems for enough time that it had only increased the cost of safekeeping day by day.

 IT and digital had remained a supportive function with limited business role for quite long but has now quickly moved to a state where it is currently playing a transformational role spreading an all pervasive intelligent mesh touching and transforming all aspects of business.

The reality. Now, there is a realization that technology infrastructure should talk to each other and work in unison to produce value for the enterprise. Data that has been lying fallow for years should be harnessed to show reality and predict the future for the enterprise to device its course of action. There is valuable IT infra in the enterprise datacenters and a rich collection of data that contain a wealth of information for executives to strategize their approach for expanding their business, reaching potential markets and increasing their revenue and profits.

All industries have started investing heavily in digital transformation as they realize that digital business is intelligent business in the current state of IT affairs. The top ten highest spending industries are expected to spend $151 billion (approximate Rs.10 lakh crores) in the next two years capitalizing on this unprecedented opportunity. Financial services lead the pack with the highest intended spending during this transformation journey. Manufacturing and Retail business have also jumped into the bandwagon so that they don’t want to be left behind by the startups and digital leaders that rely heavily on digital for their success and leadership.

Digital Transformation – Beware of these three sure ways to failure

An enterprise is ensured of leadership in the respective industry if it is already digitally transformed or is transforming at a quick pace. All that is required is build capabilities in digital as well as in leadership. It is essentials that the enterprise excels in both these dimensions. Falling short in one of the two might not yield desired results and would sometimes wreck the journey.

Companies with strong technology leadership alone might not qualify for a digital transformation success. Alternatively, enterprises with access to enough technology but with no good leadership and vision is sure to fail in the effort to transform.

Beware! If an enterprise does not have a digital vision at all, it is sure to fall behind rapidly. Enterprises might think that they are not the best candidates for the digital transformation journey or that there is no threat to their existence as far as they can perceive. Remember Kodak? A latecomer in the journey is also sure to miss the bus. While ignorance might not be the reason, a wait-and-see approach might be the spoiler in the already frenzy business environment. Such enterprises wrongly assume that the transformation journey is not necessary now as the environment does not provide a compelling reason to launch out right away. A few lack leadership capabilities to make thing happen. Others complain of regulations or lack of privacy that might be undesired by-products of the transformation process as social media and the Cloud are its integral parts.

Beware! There are enterprises that keep acquiring the latest technology just for the sake of being trendy in the market. They flaunt it to the outside world but little seems to have changed in the core. Such fashionable approach might only seem to bring progress but ultimately would limit bigger opportunities. A lack of strong digital leadership and / or governance might result in wasted expenditure. Sometimes, enterprises might want to reverse what has been done due to no clear vision on integration and scalability. Putting in place incompatible technologies or those that do not bring in a synergy might result in frustration in the part of the consumer – employees or customers. Devising different and multiple marketing strategies that overlap markets might confuse the consumer and result in undesired internal clashes.

Beware! Enterprises that take a conservative approach cannot become successful and might be beaten by others, sometimes, by greenfield players and startups. Possessing leadership capabilities is not everything. Enterprises must also build digital capabilities. Such enterprises are very cautious, ensuring every digital investment is carefully considered and strongly coordinated. They don’t want to commit mistakes resulting in wasted time, effort and money. This might result in the company falling into a governance trap that focuses more on controls and rules than making progress. The top management – and therefore the organization as a whole - cannot be mobilized too. Enterprises that are trying to prevent failure will not make progress at all.

- some inputs gleaned from Leading Digital - HBR Press

Digital Transformation – Why and How?

A global car rental company that does not own even one car. A global hospitality services provider that does not own even a room. A food services provider without a kitchen or even an oven. A leading manufacturer of Airplane engines that does not intend to sell their product anymore but is seeing unprecedented revenue growth. A leading Indian paint manufacturer who is no longer interested in selling its paints but expanded globally and have earned profits of more than 15% year on year for nearly a decade.

All these businesses mentioned above are today leaders in their own way because of a transformation that has been brought about by digital technology – the business disruption that has emerged because of the nexus of forces – Social, Mobile, Information flow and the Cloud.

It is rare to find an enterprise that can be called leader in digital transformation – where the company uses digital technologies to transform the way they do business all the while driving significantly higher levels of profit, productivity and performance. There are very few such enterprises in India to date.

A business enterprise that leads digitally will outperform its peers; according to a survey they are at least 25% more profitable than their average industry competitors, generate nearly 10% more revenue with their existing physical capacity and drive more efficiency in their existing products and processes.

Becoming a leader in Digital is not an impossible task. All it requires is time and a courage to lead. Time – as it is a process and does not show results overnight. Courage – as it involves taking risks and bold steps to explore, identify and pursue the change.

There is a torrent of data that is generated by the Internet of Things that the digital leaders use to combine it with Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning and visualization to help them make informed decisions. They can see the future more clearly, drive out inefficiencies and better understand their customers.

Digital leaders build digital capabilities by rethinking and improving their business processes, their customer engagements and their business models. They also build strong leadership capabilities to envision and drive transformation.

Digital leaders go beyond websites and mobile apps to engage with customers. They also break some of the paradoxes of traditional operational excellence and build capabilities that improve efficiency and agility, power new customer engagements and enable new business models. Delivery models are reconfigured, new products and services are created and sometimes whole new industries are created.

Enterprises who want to lead digitally take a top-down approach. Senior management shows the direction and workers are engaged to make the change happen. Creating a transformative vision is the first step, though. The onus of energizing the employees to make the vision a reality is on the CXOs. Governance at every level will keep the transformation engine on track. Technology is the fuel that will power this transformation engine.

- some inputs gleaned from Leading Digital – HBR press.