The digital revolution has changed much in a very short time span, and one would be hard pressed to have missed the changes happening all around us.
From the rapid improvement and proliferation of personal computers, to the ongoing digitization of every aspect of the office, pen and paper to the .docx, digital signatures, IM instead of the phone, the list goes on.
There remains an issue at the heart of this revolution, the issue being the hampered adoption of these new modes and methods due to those lacking the ability to envision what exactly the digital revolution can do for them, coupled with the age-old idiom of “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. These are, while not alone in their part of this play, the major contributors of the slowdown in adoption.
Investing in a digital transformation involves more than just determining what works, and what doesn’t, it requires an objective view of how your company is running, how to bind together practices into new ones, beyond simple replacement of in situ systems. To truly see what digital transformation can do for you and your company, requires a lot of critical thinking, imagination, and the willingness to apply innovative ideas and methods to old processes and routines.
What is Digital Transformation?
Even in the past two years, the concept of digital transformation has twisted and shifted upon itself as technology has rocketed off in new directions. It is neither a concrete thing nor an outcome, but more an ongoing process by which companies accelerate or enhance their connectivity, supply chain efficiency, speed of delivery, communications with clients and more.
As a start, it’s upgrading your company’s software, infrastructure and perhaps other processes into a cloud computing environment, with ERP capabilities. This allows you a multitude of freedoms that don’t exist when your company is limited to the physical computers and processors in your office. Then there’s the rapidly-expanding Internet of Things (IoT) which has the power to connect any device with a sensor in it to the Internet – specifically to your business for real-time data gathering and analysis. If you make deliveries by truck, the sensors in your fleet can send back data on fuel efficiency, best routes to take to specific destinations and more.
Surely familiar with smartphones, but how about a smart factory? The digital transformation can be large scale as well. Automate decision-making in one factory, build an exact physical copy of said factory in another location and the systems in place can make decisions for both at the same time.
Even artificial intelligence (A.I.), once only the stuff of Isaac Asimov novels, is becoming part of companies’ digital identities. For firms that employ customer service departments or have enormous data centers, A.I. can take over the reins of a ton of processes by feeding on massive amounts of data, developing algorithms to make choices and ask questions, then begin taking phone calls and chat questions from your customers as well as storing, categorizing and analyzing data as it comes, which I’ll admit still sounds a little fictional.
The Hidden Benefit?
The visible benefits of going digital are easy to spot. Done right, within months you’ll notice increases in efficiency of tasks, communication lines will grow dramatically shorter between you and the partners across your supply chain, and your employees will never have to wait on a giant file attachment to come through their inbox again. The unseen reward is time. With digital automation of many processes, your employees can stop putting out fires and start focusing on the future; using their intellect along with the insight gained from business intelligence to set the company’s course for the years to come.