Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has been on the agenda of companies for several years and has been embraced by Leaders with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Change management is complex and digital transformation has sometimes been lowered to the rank of simply implementing new systems. However, it has much broader implications and impact on the business. It is about using technology to make your processes more efficient and deliver better service to your customers. By developing different ways of running your operations a new business model should emerge, one that could disrupt the established economic order. It is also about adapting your company to societal shifts like the one we are currently experiencing at a head spinning rate.

Covid has been a catalyst for the acceleration of trends that have been emerging over the last few years. It has radically changed how people work, communicate, shop and eat. Payments have become quasi exclusively contactless and remote working has become the norm with companies adapting their IT capabilities to sustain it whilst remaining compliant with data processing rules such as GDPR. Online shopping has surged meaning that having a virtual shop front is now a must. Click and collect options as well as fast deliveries are now expected by consumers and has meant building further capabilities and more flexible operations to offer customers a seamless experience. In the hospitality industry, restaurants have been investing in new online ordering systems and infrastructures to support an increased demand for home deliveries. These shifts in behaviour have created challenges for companies as they had to make decisions on acquiring new technology to build their online presence, their communications system to enable employees to work effectively and learning how to process and analyse the new data available.

Leadership has a key role to play in the context of digital transformation. Large scale changes need to be championed by the management team and the Board; their support will have an impact on how well it is understood by employees and how it will be implemented effectively. Artificial Intelligence is an exciting topic, however the ability to use and analyse your existing data efficiently is highly likely to give your company a competitive edge. Investing in advanced analytics will provide your firm with insights into your customers’ needs and help make better decisions.

An innovative use of data gives companies a strategic advantage. Having the skills required to convert that data into relevant insights and the ability to interpret them are the keys to success. Companies think about technology as a way to do more with less people, in reality you have to combine talent and technology to unlock possibilities. Digital innovation will keep delivering new systems, new ways of doing things and it will be important for companies to develop the new skills required to harness those innovations. Having the right talent in an ever-changing environment means hiring employees who are adaptable, agile and have the willingness to constantly develop their skill set. As new technologies emerge, they will undoubtedly impact the job market, some roles will become obsolete whilst other lines of work will appear. With very little insight into which areas will be affected, making sure your workforce is flexible, adaptable and armed with the right tools to adapt to change is the best way to future-proof your organisation.

It will also mean a change in the company culture. A transformation involves experimenting and taking risks, disrupting yourself and your team to generate innovation. Creating a transparent culture in the digital age means empowering your employees, allowing them to voice their ideas and to make decisions. This will only work if the goals are clear and if your team is ready to embrace what technology has to offer.

Digital transformation finds itself at the heart of value creation, even more so in the current environment. Technology brings the tools to disrupt and innovate; the right leadership team and an adaptable workforce will use those tools to drive the transformation. Nobody knows where the next challenge will come from but being prepared to reassess current processes and operating models and experiment with them might be the key to enhance resilience in the next societal shift or the next crisis.

September 28, 2021