The potential benefits of information technology have often been exaggerated, but the reality is that, over the medium and long terms, it really does help grow performance and productivity for businesses. The digital transformation of organizations is following this trend, and the optimistic predictions of the early 2000s have been greatly exceeded. A tsunami has even washed over some sectors, revealing businesses that have digitally reinvented the traditional models, so it’s hard to imagine doing without them: Uber for taxis, Airbnb for the hotel industry, Netflix entertainment content distribution and Bitcoin for currency exchange come to mind. Examples are numerous, and the future promises a number of surprises, because no sector can escape this wave.

 

Transformation in progress

 
For some years now, all sizes of organizations have been transitioning to the digital model, whether by installing software packages to automate routine tasks or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to quickly process large numbers of transactions; by replacing spreadsheets used in operations with more advanced and more secure software; or by using smartphones and tablets so employees can manage their daily tasks more effectively. Those steps can be taken even further with a firm commitment to go digital. That requires investing in the processes, information, technologies and talents that will positively impact both the customer experience and the levels of productivity and operational performance that would otherwise be unattainable.

 

Taking the next step

 
Experience shows that a pragmatic approach will speed up the transition to the more digital enterprise, so a high level analysis will quickly identify the most promising paths to take. It shouldn’t be limited to just the obvious or what the competition is doing, but should cover all of an organization’s facets, because potential gains and savings can often appear in unimagined places. Indeed, gains can be made in all steps of the customer relationship, as well as in all of the company’s processes. So the focus will have to be on the processes related to strategic planning and those associated with product and service development, through corporate processes (Finance, HR, IT), to marketing, sales, operations and distribution.

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Change of culture

 
Businesses that have successfully gone digital realize that such a transformation often involves making substantial, sometimes difficult, changes that rewire the organization’s very culture. That should pave the way for the changes it needs to (re)become hyper focused on its customers more quickly and more agilely so it can adjust to their rapidly changing needs, not to mention more effectively and with more innovation to ensure that its products and services are constantly improving, all in sync with the digital technologies that constantly open up new opportunities. Such a cultural transformation can only come about if it’s managed carefully and with a comprehensive vision that includes all of the organization’s dimensions.

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