We are amid a massive disruption at a scale never seen before. Digital transformation is fiercely taking shape, and many businesses are striving for a seat at the table. The confluence of accelerating technologies like elastic cloud computing, big data, AI and IoT is why digital transformation is one of the greatest buzzwords of the past few years. When you google “digital transformation”, you are likely to get results in the millions.
Before I continue its essential, I make a crucial distinction between digitisation and digital transformation. Digitisation is using digital tools and technologies to improve the way business is being run without really altering the fundamental modus operandi, digital transformation however helps you move gracefully from one way of working to an entirely new one. Merely investing in digital technology to digitise existing processes is not enough to transform an industry, digital transformation requires revolutionary changes to its core corporate processes and parts.
Digital transformation affects the way businesses think and act.
The way to maintain relevance in today’s business is to transform, and early adopters are likely to reap the more substantial benefits. The companies that fail to innovate and digitally transform are often afraid of risk; they would instead stick with what is proven.
When Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, Nokia did not see the need to innovate. It’s clear which company is thriving today. Similar to evolutionary theory, moments of economic stability are suddenly disrupted with little forewarning, fundamentally changing the business landscape. We cannot predict precisely how and where the impacts will fall, but we know the scale of change would be enormous.
Listen to the words of Nike’s CEO Mark Parker: “Fueled by a transformation of our business; we are attacking growth opportunities through innovation, speed and digital to accelerate long-term sustainable and profitable growth.”
If large companies don’t evolve, they would be replaced by smaller companies. Size has never been a guarantee for longevity. More than half of the companies that comprised the Fortune 500 in 2000 are no longer on the list today.
John Chambers delivered a keynote as he left his two-decades-long role as Cisco CEO: “Forty percent of businesses in this room, unfortunately, will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 years. If I’m not making you sweat, I should be”
The gap between the companies that have embraced digital transformation and those that have not is already wide and is expected to increase exponentially. Companies can now take advantage of elastic computing, Big Data, AI and IoT to facilitate their digital transformation journey.
The drive for industries to digitally transform cannot be overemphasised; otherwise, by the time you adapt to today’s digital environment, that environment would have experienced significant change.
The Future of Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is expected to make strides in business and society at large. These new technologies would boost the economy, improve healthcare delivery and bring greater efficiency to our daily lives. Some of the ways digital transformation would improve human lives include:
- Healthcare: Early detection and diagnosis of diseases are expected. Robots would assist surgeons in performing surgeries with high precision. This advancement would democratise healthcare and dramatically reduce the cost of care
- Automotive Industry: Self-driving cars would help lessen casualties caused by distractions on the road, drunk driving and so on
- Customer Experience: Conversational AI or intelligent chatbots would be available to provide customer care 24/7 and free up the task from your support team to focus on the creative aspect of their work
- Manufacturing: 3D printing would allow for mass and inexpensive customisation with low or no distribution costs
- Resource Management: resources would be matched with needs, think of how elastic cloud computing would reduce cost on building an on-premise IT infrastructure
I have listed just a few of the applications, but the list is endless as we see the use of AI in industries never before anticipated. Digital transformation is not just for large cooperations; even smaller firms can increase productivity by embracing these technologies.
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Five years from now, we expect 35 percent of the essential workforce skills to have changed. Companies have to initiate and start training their workforce on the skills that would be needed in the digital age to complement the work of machines. The world Economic Forum wrote in an influential 2016 paper on digital transformation: “Robotics and artificial intelligent systems will not be used to replace human tasks, but to augment their skills.”
As stated earlier, the building blocks to enable digital transformation are available and widely accessible. There is simply no time to delay; established companies must start reengineering their business processes or risk losing it to burgeoning startups