Digital transformation

Digital transformation
September 19, 10:07 PM

It’s about coming to your senses

It’s easy to understand why businesses are often likened to the human body. Like people, companies rely on a range of senses to understand what is happening in their environment – be it the market or their customers – and draw on that information to inform how they work. Once you get under the skin, a collection of systems and processes keep the business working, adapting, and fending off threats. 

The metaphor still rings true, but the processes are becoming more nuanced as the world goes digital. We are firmly in the age of customer-centricity, and companies cannot afford to rely on a superficial sense of what’s happening in the market. Customers expect companies to respond to their needs at an individual level, and to do so in a more personalised and secure way. 

The challenge for businesses is therefore to get in touch with what their senses are telling them, whether it’s drawing insight from customer data or looking at their own processes to see where they might be improved. This is the fundamental shift companies need to take on if they are to undergo a successful digital transformation and continue meeting customer needs in a sustainable way. 

Reinvention is not only necessary, it’s healthy, no matter the size of organisation. From a start-up that has just launched its first website to an established enterprise player branching out into a new product line, leading businesses reinvent themselves time and time again. 

What does it take to achieve this? If we revert to the comparison between a business and the human body, there are five senses that must govern its decision-making from the inside-out. 

⦁    A human touch
Even if a company’s ultimate aim is to drive sales, customer-centricity is about people. It’s about understanding what customers are thinking, what they need, and what their aspirations are. More importantly, it’s about companies factoring all of these considerations into the way they work and the products and services they deliver.

Human-centric thinking starts with an organisation’s approach to employees. The way leaders treat managers is then paid forward to their teams, who in turn pay the same ethos forward to customers. A chain that starts by putting people first will result in a customer experience that does the same. 

⦁    A connected approach
The secret to absorbing and quickly getting value from data is greater levels of integration. The challenge of managing huge volumes of information is that it’s nearly impossible to organise and manage all of it by manual means. Especially when the more inputs and data sources a company has, the more robust its insight into customers and the market will be.

That’s why we’re seeing more companies invest in platforms that help ensure data is instantly organised, accessible to the right people, and analysed at scale so that it can be factored into their decision-making. 

⦁    Insight-driven decisions
Access to data is crucial, but the most valuable piece for companies is being able draw insight from that data and ensure teams can quickly act on that insight. Ultimately, it is how a company processes and interprets information that will shape its decisions. The same goes for a human – we may know we’re driving through a cattle farm but historical context tells us to pinch our nose to avoid the smell.  

This quest for insight is the central pillar of a modern business, bringing together its people, processes and technologies towards a common aim. Achieving this is no small feat, especially for large companies that must first untangle years of legacy processes, but new technologies such as AI and the Internet of Things have made it easier than ever to collect and process large volumes of data in an efficient way. 

⦁    Autonomous
With constant re-invention comes constant evolution. There is no finish-line for the products or services a company rolls out, or for the way it operates. Businesses need to adapt constantly, looking for innovative ways to excite customers and keep them coming back for more. The issue is that so much time is still dedicated to managing, upgrading and protecting existing systems when it could be spent more productively. 

Enter autonomous systems, a new range of self-governing, self-repairing, and self-protecting systems that take on much of this administrative work so businesses can focus on innovative thinking and intrapreneurial projects. This is more than a systems upgrade, it’s a completely new way to approach businesses structures and the role of employees. 

⦁    A trusted partner
With companies increasingly automating processes and turning to AI algorithms, customers have a right to question whether machines can fulfil their needs and protect their best interests. Trust is quickly emerging as an organisation’s most valuable asset in this environment, particularly as both the public and regulators push for greater transparency into the way businesses use the data and technology at their disposal. 

For someone to put their faith in an automated service, or for an employee to see the advantage of autonomous systems, companies need to clearly demonstrate their value. They need to take the time to build confidence in these innovations, showing not only that they work but also that they are secure despite being driven largely by technology. 
These five pillars of the modern business are very much within reach. Indeed, companies around the world are already making headway with some of these, from hospitality leader Meliá Hotels to shipping and logistics stalwart DP World. For these businesses, an innovation mindset has paid major dividends already and they have only begun on their journey. As they, and others, continue to build and refine the five senses outlined above, they will find themselves on course for even greater success to come.