Natural disasters, IT problems, and the loss of people’s talent or skill all-cause business disruptions throughout the year. And business leaders want to make sure that they recover quickly from setbacks and keep their operations running smoothly. So, how will they be able to accomplish this?
To achieve such a level of robustness and adapt to future disruptions, digital transformation is required.
Companies that had already digitized their business processes were winning during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent McKinsey survey, 72 percent of companies that successfully responded to COVID-19 were among the first in their industry to try out new technology.
During the crisis, these companies were also the first to fill tech talent gaps, innovate, and effectively manage data-related and cybersecurity risks. Almost everyone who took part in this survey agreed that a digital-first mindset is necessary for building resilience and achieving recovery time goals.
While it is self-evident that digital transformation should be at the heart of an organization’s growth strategy and operational model, the pandemic has heightened the urgency of this imperative. Suppose your company is just getting started with digital transformation or is in the middle of it. In that case, you may feel overwhelmed when you realize the scope, cost, procurement, integration, education, and return on investment issues that come with it (ROI).
So, here are four basic steps to help you get started and become genuinely digital and resilient to future disruptions:
1. Adopt a “Virtual First” Perspective
Business leaders are grappling with complex labor issues, such as successfully leading in remote settings. To put it another way, how do you deal with the demands of a diverse workforce, especially one with shifted expectations around well-being, diversity, sustainability, and social impact? And, to meet these demands while maintaining cohesion, how does corporate culture need to change?
Intelligent digital transformation can pave the way for the future virtualization of company infrastructure.
By taking a virtual-first approach, you can determine where physicality can become optional and which technologies and cyber tactics are required to support a primarily digital workplace and workforce.
On the other hand, think about which jobs require physical presence and how to use technology to create a more human-centered workforce.
Both have implications for how organizations access, curate, and engage talent in a post-pandemic world and how management practices aligned with their business strategy can foster a virtual-first culture.
Rethinking assumptions can lead to real opportunities on both sides of personal interaction.
For example, telemedicine has long been a novel solution that has gone unappreciated because patients and caregivers expect an in-person encounter.
However, during the pandemic, video and audio visits with providers increased dramatically, with widespread benefits. To shake loose the foundations and allow something new to emerge, a shock may be required.
2. Invest in cloud-based extensibility and agility
In today’s chaotic and highly disruptive environment, cloud capabilities enable organizations to move at the speed of their markets. Moving to the cloud can improve operational consistency, automation, scalability, and agility.
It’s important to remember that the cloud is a scalable business platform, not an outsourced data center. Digital transformation keeps your company updated with current technology and makes adding new capabilities to your tech stack much easier.
For example, major cloud providers have accelerated the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) frameworks by quickly integrating them into their massive data centers.
The actual value of the cloud is in its efficiency and its ability to increase creativity and flexibility. Security could become a competitive differentiator with a security-by-design strategy. Indeed, security is one of the major selling points of the cloud, which is one of the reasons why more businesses are moving their systems online.
3. Automate Decision-Making Where Possible
Many businesses have high-volume, high-cost activities that don’t require much human intervention. You can use AI and machine learning to set thresholds to indicate which inputs require human intervention and which ones can be automated. Deloitte polled executives and found that 73% are looking into intelligent automation for their businesses, up from 58 percent in 2019.
Once your employees are accustomed to automation, you can access additional AI capabilities in the cloud and use them to improve customer management and product innovation. Many of the top customer relationship management products, for example, now include customer modeling capabilities that can predict and flag individuals who are most likely to leave.
AI and machine learning are rapidly expanding their horizons. Customers must be engaged, show compassion, and ask questions based on intuition and experience.
4. Use Data to Drive Innovation
Unfortunately, the majority of data in many organizations today fail to meet basic requirements, and the rigors of digital transformation necessitate significantly improved data quality and analytics.
Data reveals an intriguing paradox: even though most businesses recognize the value of data and that quality is an issue, they waste a significant amount of money by failing to establish the necessary roles and responsibilities. (They frequently attribute all of their problems to their IT departments.)
You’ll need a wide range of knowledge and expertise when it comes to data, just like with technology. Even more important is the ability to persuade large numbers of employees on the front lines of businesses to take on new roles as data customers and data providers.
This significant shift in your company’s culture necessitates hiring a Chief Data Officer (CDO). They can assist in collecting data from various sources and provide data-driven insights to your front-line employees, allowing them to improve their work processes.
The Three Keys to a Successful Digital Transformation
You’ll need the right mix of leadership, talent, and technology to successfully implement your digital transformation goals successfully. Here’s how to improve in each of these areas:
Determine who will be in charge of your digital transformation project. This individual or group will be in charge of overseeing and driving execution throughout your company.
At the same time, your leadership should encourage the rest of the executive team to communicate openly and hold each other accountable. Leaders must understand why and how digital transformation works and what it will take to realize the vision.
Set clear objectives for how your workforce and your work will need to adapt to new technology and business models.
According to a recent CIO survey, due to labor shortages in the sector, 67 percent of technology executives have had to upskill—or teach new skills too—existing employees. Furthermore, due to the pandemic, businesses and their workforces have had to quickly adapt to working and conducting operations remotely, further widening the gap.
As our economy changes, people will need to learn new skills. What kind of background, skill set, and variety do you want to have? Talent may be hampered if there aren’t enough resources and incentives to support the company’s goals. (See also: The Benefits and Drawbacks of a Hybrid Workforce.)
Make a connection between efficiency and creativity. Consider cloud, data, AI, and machine learning (ML) as a flexible and scalable research and development foundation that allows rapid experimentation, insights, and iterations.
It’s critical to re-establish trust because digital transformation requires institutional IT. Developers must produce and demonstrate commercial benefits with every technological breakthrough.
Make the necessary technological investments to strike a balance between Innovation and debt reduction. Instead of using disparate productivity tools, you might want to consider investing in integrated business management solutions. Integrated solutions share a single database and provide a single source of truth for the entire organization, allowing for better decision-making and increasing resistance to inefficiencies.
For example, ContinuSys IBMS is an integrated suite of apps that assists organizations in managing all of their core business processes. These cloud-based integrated apps provide access to critical business information at any time and from any location, ensuring business continuity in the event of a disaster. As a result, businesses can recover quickly from short- and long-term disruptions.
The pandemic has heightened the need for businesses to go digital and develop new capabilities to respond quickly, innovate, and adapt to change. Accelerating digital transformation initiatives is the only way for executive leaders to break free from the shackles of the past and build a brighter future for their company.