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  • Digital transformation driving business innovation with inclusive growth

    Technological innovations are transforming workplaces faster than ever. The challenge for leaders is to ride this technological wave of change and pick out the benefits, without losing sight of company objectives.

    Revolution is an overused word in the English language, but working people have witnessed a genuine technological revolution in the last 20 years that has eclipsed anything since Britain industrialised.Two decades isn’t that long, yet in this time organisations have gone from sending slivers of dead trees to each other, to adopting technologies that facilitate the instant sharing of information and collaborative work.

    Between 1995 and 2005, organisations went digital. They built websites and installed e-mail as their primary communication channel. Between 2005 and today they have experimented with increasingly powerful digital technologies, picking up all kinds of efficient, business-boosting applications.

    These tools, from sophisticated video conferencing to cloud storagebig data and customer relationship management platforms, free up space, save money and emancipate the workforce to be where they need to be rather than where technological constraints mean they have to be.

    There is no sign of this abating. The technological genie is out of the bottle and the signs are that innovation will speed up, not slow down. The implications for businesses are enormous and those who adopt smartly will push ahead of the others.

    Digital makes the process of change faster because of the connectivity it creates. Businesses are better connected to their employees and their customers, and their customers are connected to a global marketplace through the internet. So whether it’s fear of ” obsolescence or the excitement of opportunity, digital is transforming the workplace fast.”

    Despite technological convergence, digital transformation is not one thing, but lots of micro-changes that, combined, make a big difference. Broadly speaking these components fit into brackets such as communications, information-gathering, insight and collaboration.

    Big data, for example, is helping businesses to learn about customers and trends in minute detail, allowing them to transform into the businesses they should be, based on insights from who they want to sell to.

    Digital technology can drive workplace transformation by allowing vast amounts of data to be analysed into easily digestible insights which can be seen at a glance, in real time, and on the move.

    Following the rise of social, mobile and cloud technologies, which enable the collection of big data, sophisticated analytics tools are now emerging to deliver unprecedented levels of insight. Employers can keep a close eye on operational efficiency, employee engagement and consumer engagement, allowing them to make informed decisions about business processes like never before.

    Social technology is also having a huge influence on employee behaviour. The growth of corporate social networks and apps now allows employees to collaborate with colleagues locally, nationally and internationally. The ubiquity of mobile devices enables flexible and new ways of working to maximise productivity.

    Organizations who can’t transform into a digital enterprise will struggle. In fact, 4 out of 10 companies will be dead in 10 years if they fail to digitize, a phenomenon called digital Darwinism. This stark reality comes at a time when competition and market volatility are at their highest. You adapt, or your business dies out.

    Digital transformation takes time, as you’re really redefining your organization with technology and improving the way in which you reach and engage your users. To ensure a successful digital transformation, you need to start small, show success and then grow your digital innovation initiatives over time.

    Digital transformation is the buzz phrase of the moment. What is transformation? It is a whole scale change to the foundational components of a business: from its operating model to its infrastructure. What it sells, to whom and how it goes to market. A transformation programme touches every function of a business; from purchasing, finance human resource, through to operations and technology, sales and marketing.

    Businesses go through transformation when they have failed to evolve. When a business evolves with its market, continually refreshing products and proposition, reaching new sets of customers and growing the value of existing ones, it doesn't need to transform. There are three key drivers of transformation: changing consumer demand, changing technology and changing competition. These, of course, are an ecosystem and it is always a convergence of factors that brings about changes in a market.

    Next let's define digital. Digital transformation is a visible wholesale restructure to avoid a tipping point caused by digital technologies and downstream market effects.

    We are in the midst of a period of great change. Evolving technology trends have altered the business world and as a result, the marketing function has had to adapt. Whole departments and seasoned marketers are being urged to keep up with changing online behaviours to optimise every aspect of business from recruitment decisions to daily tasks and processes.

    With more and more ways to communicate online, optimising interactions with users isn’t always straightforward, with many of us using several smart devices to access the web from multiple locations. The mobile experience has inevitably become a priority for many, with trends such as mobile-first design reflecting this interest.

    Even if businesses manage to optimise their brand across every touchpoint, there are a significant number of digital spaces where they do not have total control over their appearance. For example, social networks provide users with instant access to peer reviews and opinion, enabling them to filter out marketing messages.

    Just eight years ago it cost $10 million to sequence human DNA: now the same application costs just $1000.  This is a classic example of how the explosion in computing computer is driving down costs and enabling companies to reinvent themselves, says futurist Gerd Leonhard.

    Speaking at Orange Business Services’ customer event Hello World 2015 in Italy, Leonard insisted that digital transformation is inevitable.

    He took the example of the music industry and how digital transformation has turned the business on its head. “Software is eating the world. Everything that used to be hardware is now software. People are no longer buying physical music and because the music business was slow to react they lost 70% of their revenue.”

    And of course it isn’t just the music industry that is undergoing change – transformation affects virtually everyone. Just like publishers are transcending the idea of selling content, digital transformation forces every leading incumbent to transcend the products and services that are certain to become a commodity.

    Even the oil industry will have to change because the fossils fuels are clearly not the future, and it is not a question of if, rather when they will make the switch to renewables.

    Whatever the solution, connectivity will be a key part of it. Networks in the future will be connecting all devices to the Internet – some predict as many as 227 billion devices connected by 2027. The key concern and opportunity in this environment is security.

    In pharmaceutical business digital technologies are powering the development of wrap-around services to traditional treatments for conditions like diabetes. By offering complementary services such as meal planners, patients are able to control their blood sugar more effectively, leading to better treatment. This could be considered a “digital drug”.

    In the aerospace massive amounts of data that is generated by aircraft could spawn new business opportunities. Aircraft used to monitor 20,000 parameters on a flight – now they monitor 450,000. When the plane lands, all this data needs to be downloaded – and it can amount to 650GB per flight!

    The digital transformation can play a pivotal role in driving ovation. wedo needa rock-solid technology foundation in place in order to be able to support the business in their digital transformation.

    IT needs to play a leading role in supporting innovation for the business. Navigating today's business environment is a remarkably complex task. At some point, almost every road, path and route leads directly to information technology. But putting IT to work in the most effective way possible and maximizing results across an enterprise is a major challenge.

    Coping with this sea change is no simple task. As organizations juggle a growing spate of technologies—mobility, clouds, big data analytics, social business and more—it's critical to connect systems strategically and build an underlying IT framework to fully support the business. This includes higher availability and greater resilience, often through entirely different network designs.

    To be sure, business and IT leaders must focus on a few critical issues: developing a strategy that maximizes the returns and the results from information technology; connecting systems and cloud services in a way that allows data, information and knowledge to flow through an enterprise; and tapping into the right skill sets for the digital age.

    An inescapable reality of today's business environment is that change occurs at a fast and furious pace. Moreover, the nature of change fundamentally redefines processes and the way people interact. Building an IT organization that fully supports innovation, agility and growth is paramount. But, too often, the daily demands of the enterprise, along with the tug of organizational silos, undermine performance and torpedo results.