Every few years new industry buzz words appear, seemingly out of nowhere and they cause confusion as well as hype. When the use of these terms acquires adequate critical mass, they get the attention by management and industry leaders. Within the cloud of vast information within blogs, articles and one’s own interpretations, we form our seemingly correct facts of what these terms mean. We decide if they are applicable to our business and if we should invest in them. More often we get pressured to be part of the industry change, rather than ensuring that we have conducted the right level of due diligence and are focusing on the transformational state we envision our businesses to achieve. We must consider this prior to embarking upon the multi-year, resource intensive and often very costly initiatives. One of these current industry buzz words is ‘Digital Transformation’.
The IDC tech research company states, worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies — hardware, software, and services — hit $1.3 trillion in 2017. It expects spending to almost double between now and 2021, when the total amount spent on digitalization globally will surpass $2.1 trillion.
According to Gartner, in a survey of 460 execs, 62 percent said they had a management initiative or transformation program to make their business more digital.
1. What Digital Transformation is Not
Many leaders today think that by implementing commercially available AI (Artificial Intelligence), AR (Augmented Reality), NLP (Natural Language Processing), RPA (Robotic Process Automation) or similar rapidly emerging technology-based applications to improve their business operations, they can achieve Digital Transformation. They consider the technology stack and the resulting operational efficiencies gained as the end goal. This is in fact far from the truth and exactly the kind of misconception that we often notice, as we speak to our clients. Adoption of these new technologies is necessary, but merely as foundational enablers to achieving Digital Transformation.
2. Digital Transformation Considerations
Digital Transformation is the transformation and foundational change of the operating model of a company. It’s not just bout replicating an existing service in a digital form, but to use technology to transform that service into something signiﬁcantly better. But it’s not just about the technology: changing business processes and corporate culture are just as vital to the success of these initiatives. It is revamping the business strategy, operations, products, marketing approach, objectives etc., by adopting modern advanced digital technologies to deliver improved value to our customers. Digital transformation can involve many different technologies, but cloud computing, big data, and AI are some of the key enablers today. This transformation should integrate and leverage the already implemented technology stack into all areas of the business, thereby changing the operating model and delivering the expected benefits. If thoughtfully executed, it can achieve increased business growth, introduce new customer segments, identify new product offerings and create new end-to-end business opportunities.
There are four main drivers of transformation: changing consumer demand, changing technology, changing competition and finally identification of new product/services. Some customers may already have the underlying foundation of infrastructure and technology and are well poised to embark upon the Digital Transformation journey. Other firms may not be technologically ready, or the nature of their business does not lend itself to Digital Transformation. However, it is imperative to invest in a thorough assessment of the current state or one may miss out on crucial long-term business opportunities.
3. What Should Our End Goal Be When Adopting a Digital Transformation Strategy?
The biggest question that organizations need to ask is, with the massive amounts of data that we capture, is it providing any actionable insights, and do we have the right tools and skills to achieve this? Are we able to utilize the immense computing power at our disposal and utilize this data to derive complementary products and service offerings for existing or new customers? How can we leverage this investment to ultimately enhance our customers’ experience and service offering?
The journey starts by understanding what prerequisites are needed to embark upon the Digital Transformation and identifying the end components of the new operating model. It is NOT just the implementation of the technologies themselves. Assess the organizational digital maturity around automation, infrastructure, processes and the current operating model. Develop a roadmap to achieve the level of automation required as a baseline before embarking upon the true Digital Transformation of the business. These steps, if not addressed with the long-term goal in mind, will result in failure to achieve the benefits of conducting the Digital Transformation.
- Life Sciences companies have begun investing in AI, NLP and RPA based corporate funded solutions as part of their foundational digital transformation strategy, to derive insights from the vast amounts of patient data they collect.
- Microsoft offers Azure and AI based cloud platform solutions to enable companies to deploy big-data intensive applications and services with ease.
- Facebook tailors content on their platform at the micro level, shows posts and marketing feeds based on very sophisticated AI and NLP algorithms, by crunching billions of data sets from vast server farms of consumer data which are continuously collected every second.
The overall goal for all these companies who have succeeded in the Digital Transformation is to identify new business models, customer segments and provide revised products, ultimately offering added value to their customers.
4. How Can Acquis Consulting Group Help to Achieve True and Sustainable Digital Transformation?
Acquis’s Digital Transformation & Customer Strategy practice helps clients ranging from early-stage startups to Fortune 500 companies in rethinking their approach to servicing customers and end-consumers, and in transforming their companies into customer-centric, digitally mature organizations that meet their customers’ needs. We also help ensure that business products and services are designed with both the digital and analog channel customers in mind.
Our team of experienced Digital Transformation & Customer Strategy professionals work with clients globally in deploying leading digital strategies, cutting-edge technologies, and innovative digital solutions, with a concentrated and singular focus on the customer.
5. Putting the Strategy to Practice and Laying The Foundation
At one of our current Life Sciences clients, we are actively working to select and implement an integrated AI and NLP based Automated Case Intake application within their Global Drug Safety & Analytics business function. The goal is to use a combination of these modern technologies to simplify and streamline the entire case intake process. It involves reading a variety of Adverse Event (AE) forms, emails, attachments etc. and extracting AE data into an industry standard Safety Database readable format (E2B). The NLP engine is aimed at interpreting the natural language sections to extract missing data elements and reduce the human steps required to fill in the gaps. An added use of the intelligent system capabilities is aimed at reading the case narrative and conducting an initial medical analysis, ready for final human review. Not to forget that all this automation will require a fresh review of the existing case intake business process to ensure optimal use of resources.
These are just some of the steps taken to lay the foundation. Thereafter, we aim to support the organization in identifying ways to use these acquired capabilities to provide better insights and proactive services to patients and health care professionals by leveraging the company’s Digital Transformation strategy.
Finally, companies must go through the exercise of assessing the right digital strategy for their organization to remain relevant in this fast paced and competitive market. The adoption of a Digital Transformation paradigm and implementation of a digital roadmap should not be an IF but more of a WHEN and HOW. By intelligently operationalizing your Digital Transformation roadmap and always maintaining customer-centricity you can prevent your company from obsolesce.
- Netflix did not kill Blockbuster. Ridiculous late fees did.
- Uber did not kill the taxi business. Limited access to fare and control did.
- Apple did not kill the music business. Being forced to buy full-length albums did.
- Amazon did not kill other retailers. Poor customer service and experience did.
Technology by itself is not the disrupter. Not adopting the right tools and being customer-centric is the biggest threat to any business.