A few years ago, digital transformation was a sophisticated term which meant that a company was adopting the latest marketing techniques which would increase their presence on social media and mobile platforms. Today, digital transformation includes a multitude of changes to systems, processes, operations and job roles across the enterprise. Digital consultants are promoting the top line and bottom line benefits that come with these changes. Here we examine six areas which are ripe for digital transformation.
It’s no surprise that marketing is the first choice for digital projects. With the proliferation of more outreach and channels come more data and more personalized messaging. Content marketing has replaced traditional advertising and new channels including social networks, mobile sites, blogs and other online venues are creating a new paradigm for marketers. Forrester Research has found that on average, firms with more than 5,000 employees are managing 268 customer facing websites and apps. Some may question whether these changes pay off, but the research shows that 91% of marketers believe that a digital experience drives better brand building for their company. Companies are adapting to the changes, learning new techniques, implementing new systems and actively using content marketing to create new messaging and attract customers. Marketing departments still remain the darlings of digital transformation as companies grow and expand.
Customer experience has become the next obvious area where digital has a strong role to play. Service teams, physical design, call centers, websites and mobile apps can either relay a disjointed set of messages to consumers or they can be orchestrated to create a consistent brand experience for the customer. Companies need to design an appropriate experience for each setting and each device. According to Razorfish, while millennials use mobile devices more than other generations, they expect a “return on attention” when they use an app or view an ad or message on their mobile device. Companies need to provide a useful convenience or reward as part of the brand experience. And, the entire customer experience needs to become seamless, easily allowing the consumer to shift online and offline.
Human resources teams have also shifted to new technologies. Recruiting and performance management tools are the most visible changes apparent to most employees. But for companies which depend on large workforces, including large consultancies, large delivery operators, hospitality firms and retailers, the benefits of a digital transformation are still in their infancy. In a report from SAP and Oxford Economics, only 31% of HR professionals felt that their use of analytics and technology was driving the business forward at a strategic level. There is room for improvement especially among companies that have highly dispersed mobile workforces. Mobile apps can provide convenient communication and feedback. GPS data and analytics can optimize workforce tasks and staffing. Online training tools can enhance and maintain workforce knowledge and skills. Implementing these processes and changes can bring a very tangible cost reduction across the enterprise.
While initially it might sound surprising to think about digital manufacturing, the automation trend and use of robots has already become a normal part of factory processes. Now a new layer of digital technologies is available to make these robots and technologies even smarter. According to a Roland Berger study, automotive companies in the U.S. stand to reduce their costs by 10-20% resulting in productivity gains of up to $32B. These digital factories rely on what the firm calls “cyber-physical” ecosystems which include IT, connectivity, data analytics and smart tools and robots which can relay information and commands. When the ecosystem works perfectly, it can deliver customization even at low quantities, increased efficiency and greater speed.
Business process improvement was a forerunner of the digital automation programs that companies are now undertaking. The result is a data rich process which can measure, analyze and report metrics to management. According to Cognizant, this type of “intelligent process automation” can drive 10% revenue growth for early adopters who implement it in their front office and customer facing processes. The key is to redesign the entire process in a way where robots and automation extend the human capabilities. The process becomes a mix of robots, humans working together and using data analytics to increase efficiency and improve quality. Consultants are quick to point out that simply automating a bad process won’t deliver much better performance.
Digital innovation which substitutes entire products by offering new digital products is perhaps the holy grail of digital transformation. Not all companies are able to achieve this. But for those companies that offer services and information, a digital version is becoming a reality. Financial transactions which were once paper based can now be conducted through mobile apps. News once delivered only via print, can be repackaged into emails, apps and websites. Design and user experience are the critical elements in creating new products. Digital products can reduce costs dramatically, but the challenge is often in the pricing model. Consumers often expect digital products to be priced at very low levels or included as free options and part of a larger suite of services. While adoption is quick, reaching break even and profitability comes only at large scale.
The digital revolution is occurring at all levels and across the enterprise. Corporations that implement these changes faster than their competitors will be able to reap profits and premium positions in the market.
This article was written by Falguni Desai from Forbes. This reprint is supplied by BNY Mellon under license from NewsCred, Inc.
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Falguni Desai, Contributor