We exist in the age of the Digital Workforce, which means any business seeking to keep up with the competition needs to undergo a digital transformation. Simply put, digital transformation is a way of using cutting-edge technologies to enhance work operations, making them more effective and efficient.
Artificial intelligence (AI), the cloud, the internet of things (IoT), automation, and other technologies are vital to updating legacy systems and optimizing workflow processes. Beyond the technology, digital transformation is an organizational overhaul that revolutionizes existing methodologies and structures to improve business operations and the customer experience.
Today’s digital transformation landscape
Some statistics shed light on the current state of digital transformation and workforce automation:
- 40% of all technology spending in 2019 was expected to be spent on digital transformation initiatives, according to CIO.
- 87% of senior business leaders believe digitalization is a company priority while 79% say it’s reinventing their businesses, paving the way for new revenue streams. This data is based on a survey from Gartner.
- 70% of digital transformation investments will go to waste due to poor planning and execution, according to Forbes.
Digital transformation best practices
To successfully increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your operations, adopting the right technological tools is not enough. Businesses must consider much more than that, including changing their profit model, customer service processes, and value propositions, and optimizing their product offerings.
At its essence, digital transformation pushes an organization to revamp its business model to bring newness to the company. This could be anything from bolstering the customer experience with self-service capabilities to a more streamlined supply chain, or leveraging the power of analytics to determine product seasonality.
The best place to begin is by outlining and filling in your business strategy before spending a dime on new technological tools. What new business methodologies, hierarchical structures, and profit initiatives are you focusing on? Once you’re able to answer these questions with a new business strategy, it’s time to bring forth a new digital era to your organization.
3 digital transformation use cases
1. Improving customer connections
Beer giant Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev has incorporated several digital initiatives to bolster its operations, improve the customer experience, and enhance its supply chain.
The company created a business-to-business (B2B) mobile application that its retail store partners — more than 4 million liquor, convenience, and other stores — use to restock AB InBev orders. The app has an algorithm that provides order suggestions. This technology frees the company’s staff to interact directly with store owners about new brands and products for more personalized sales relationships.
To forge better customer engagement, AB InBev is looking into software that monitors social media outlets to learn more about how the brand affects consumers.
At an internal organizational level, the business has rolled out “connected breweries” that use advanced technology to keep tabs on its beer for factors such as volume, temperature, and quality.
The company has also consolidated its core transactional systems from 27 different enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems into one (SAP S/4HANA). Reducing the number of siloed processes at an organization is a vital element of digital transformation.
2. Information-based approach
Capital One formulated a digital strategy that relies on the combination of analytics, investing in technology experts, and restructuring its IT workforce so it can rapidly develop and deploy innovative services. Since 2011, the organization has added 6,500 software engineers, artificial intelligence (AI) experts, and more to the fold.
The company’s digital transformation includes an Agile software model, cloud adoption for its services and apps, and the use of real-time analytics to boost the customer experience. Capital One is also leveraging the power of machine learning and AI to its fraud protections services, and to enhance call center operations.
In addition, Capital One rolled out Eno, an AI assistant that aids in delivering balance and fraud alerts to customers.
3. Growing e-commerce
It’s been a number of years since Walmart came to the conclusion that more automation in the customer experience is necessary — consumers expect it. One successful digital transformation initiative is in its e-commerce business, where the big-box retailer added pickup for online orders, and convenience for customers.
Walmart has also enhanced its online shopping cart with machine learning, a shelf-scanning robot, and more. The robot leverages real-time analytics to more accurately predict inventory needs. The move has helped reduce instances of items being out of stock — a common customer pain point.
To streamline workforce training, Walmart added virtual reality to the program. The technology has been successful in helping employees get a better understanding of their tasks.
Walmart has also improved its supply chain area of operations with blockchain technology. Additionally, blockchain tech is ensuring the safety of food items displayed in stores. Walmart is seen by some as a pioneer in bringing blockchain to retail operations, gaining an edge over the competition.
Undergoing digital transformation is a multifaceted process that requires a combination of revamping organizational structures, rethinking business plans, and adding cutting-edge technological tools. AB InBev, Capital One, and Walmart have experienced great success with this approach, bolstering the customer experience, growing their workforces, and enhancing their supply chains.
Digital transformation, in essence, is an organizational paradigm shift that moves processes away from legacy systems to a more effective and efficient technological operational structure.