With globalisation and the surge of online there has never been more opportunity for businesses in all industries, from retail to utilities, to grow and reach new markets. Of course, an increasingly digital and interconnected world also presents certain challenges. Businesses now face cross-sector competition both online and offline, making it harder to stand out against the competition and provide a service that adds value to ever-savvy customers.
Digital transformation proposes a solution to this problem: adopting the latest technologies to innovate your business and enhance productivity across all departments. Digital allows organisations to better understand their customer and put the customer’s requirements at the core of their strategy. Therefore, the motivation for an organisation’s digital transformation must stem from enhancing the customer and employee experience. Digital transformation can enable a customer-centric business model which continually adds value for customers, building the trust and loyalty that increases retention.
Digital disruption might be as simple as moving to a cloud-based office application which supports agile working, building a mobile application for consumer use or overhauling your company’s digital strategy to help drive traffic and sales conversions. Operational innovation is essential to empower your employees, helping them to stay agile and better meet customer needs. Equally, offering exciting, digital experiences is necessary to appeal to tech-savvy, omnichannel consumers. Since each aspect of your enterprise is connected and feeds into one another, consistency is vital in digital transformation.
The potential benefits of new technologies to operational performance and bottom line growth is clear. Unsurprisingly, Gartner’s latest forecast expects global IT spending to increase to $3.8 trillion in 2019, with enterprise software predicted to see the largest growth with an increase of 8.3%.
Enterprises are indeed investing vast sums in their technology, but how effective are these companies proving in their technological transformation?
A Fujitsu study on digital transformation found that an alarming number of businesses had lost around £500,000 in failed digital projects with 74% admitting that often their projects were not engaging with the overarching business strategy. Limited budget is also an issue particularly for SMEs whilst a lack of skilled employees and digital direction from the board are also common obstacles.
Ultimately adopting the latest technologies is futile if businesses are not linking this with the company’s wider consumer and business objectives. Pinpointing the needs which your digital solutions should address is a first step which is often missed; technology is not a one-size-fits-all model and the best developers will help organisations to tailor and adapt their applications to support current and future demands. It is vital that organisations look to those agile SMEs who can assist in the entire design and delivery of digital and mobile applications.
New technologies must be grounded in a firm understanding of how they will benefit both the business core running and the customer.
JPMorgan is one of many financial services firms scrutinising their digital transformation strategy, aiming to take the lead within a competitive industry and address customer needs. The company recently announced it will be adding some pioneering technologies to its digital transformation roadmap including AI and blockchain, budgeting around $10bn for technology spending- $5bn of which will go towards fintech investment.
This comes following reports that JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Canada and ANZ have added around 75 leading banks from across the globe into its Interbank Information Network (IIN), which is testing the benefits of blockchain technology in making unconventional payments quicker.
Putting the customer, and end-user, at the heart of new solutions is intrinsic to the success of an organisation’s transformation. Too often a great mobile app or software solution is thwarted by a poor User Interface, something which can be prevented by a thorough analysis of the customer in the development stages. Researching user characteristics, why they will be using the application and on what platforms, will all inform the app design and help to create a superior user experience.
Alongside any digital changes enterprises must prioritise their organisational transformation. The human element of digital transformation is one which is often ignored; taking an in-depth look at the company culture around technology, proper staff training and c-level awareness and leadership must occur in order to maximise the technology benefits. A legacy mindset is one of the greatest factors preventing enterprises from progression.
Consistency and integration of digital applications are also key factors for any successful transformation. A retailer for instance who invests in an innovative Augmented Reality app which allows customers to browse and engage via their smartphone should not forget their desktop experience. With customers expecting a seamless experience across all channels, and often choosing desktop sites for more detailed product research and purchasing, failing to optimise one channel might deter customers from purchase. Equally, adopting the right mobile technologies can support greater flexibility and productivity in workforces. However without a defined strategy in place there is a risk of data being lost between legacy and modern systems.
A further common reason for failed digital transformation is a lack of maintenance and investment. More than ever today’s software and mobile applications require constant maintenance and updating to ensure solutions are safe and secure for users. Regular updates will also ensure solutions remain fit for purpose; modern in style and in usability. Digital optimisation is a continuous process for businesses rather than a short-term endeavour, and as such it requires permanent investment of resources and time to maintain and future-proof applications and avoid obsolescence.
Increasingly, ambitious organisations are recognising that digital transformation is crucial to remain competitive and match evolving customer needs. The crux of a successful transformation is consistency: committing long-term investment in the digital technology and organisation culture, ensuring both are rooted in the customer and wider business objectives.
Adam Stone is the founder and CEO of Rokk, which specialises in software, mobile application and website development solutions for businesses.
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement