INFOTECH: Digital Transformation – Will Your Business Just Survive or Thrive
Recent Western Cape Business News
TECHNOLOGY is evolving at an ever-accelerating pace, driving new business models, and even disruptive new businesses that could not have existed previously. Any business should have digital transformation at the heart of its corporate strategy or, risk becoming uncompetitive and irrelevant.
Successfully applying transformation requires not only new technology, but new ways of thinking and new mind sets. This could be the difference between failure, survival or thriving in a rapidly evolving business landscape.
The impact of new technology driving the move toward the digital business cannot be overstated. A digitally enabled business utilising combinations of new technologies is empowered to leverage new disruptive business models, develop innovative partnerships and products, and open up entirely new markets. These disruptive business models simply could not exist without technologies such as the cloud, mobility and big data analytics. However, successful application of digital transformation does not mean a business has to become ‘the next Uber’. The key is to harness technology in new combinations to enable a business to offer new products and solutions to dynamically meet the changing needs of consumers. This transformation is not limited to ‘technology companies’ only. It can enable businesses to some extent to change the way they operate.
New developments in the technology arena including the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, wearables and artificial intelligence are all becoming increasingly available and widely used, and open up many new avenues. There are practically endless technology combinations that can be harnessed by businesses from across the entire spectrum of industry, from agriculture to healthcare, construction to logistics and everything in between. Sensors connected to the IoT can provide data from a host of new areas, linked into the cloud and analysed. This information can be used to drive innovation and improved business decisions.
While many of the most well known examples of digitally innovative and successful organisations are Internet-based, digital transformation can and should be applied to non-Internet companies as well. This is essential for competitiveness in a digital world. Like their Internet-based counterparts, successfully transformed non-Internet organisations have more agile technology solutions, requiring less capital, a smaller workforce and fewer physical assets. The result of this is improved profit margins and higher growth rates, along with the ability to compete more effectively.
The degree of transformation achievable, as well as its impact on the business, depends on the way in which this transformation is applied. Business model transformation, which radically changes what a company does or the products it offers, is the most well known currently. Extreme examples such as Uber and Airbnb may also transform an industry sector in addition to the entire organisation. Transformation does not, however, need to apply to the entire organisation. For example, operating model transformation may focus on changing the way a company is financed or the way it acquires customers, while business process transformation, as the name suggests, is focused on changes to business processes.
While technology plays an important role in any digital transformation strategy, it is in essence only an enabler. The key to success is the people element, as a new way of thinking is essential when it comes to identifying the potential for technology as well as ways to make money from innovative technology use. Consistent innovation requires that talent be invested in and nurtured, which requires a supportive culture and effective skills management, amongst other things. Ultimately, good leadership, which fosters this type of culture and proactive acquisition and management of talent, is critical to effective digital transformation.
Technology continues to evolve and organisations need to keep pace or risk becoming obsolete. Innovative companies and industry disruptors are constantly redefining the competitive landscape, and businesses that cannot successfully embrace digital transformation will be hard pressed to remain successful. Digital transformation is rapidly becoming a defining differentiator, and the difference between mere survival and the ability to thrive in an increasingly technology-driven business world.
By Mike Rees, Commvault Territory Account Manager for Africa
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