What is digital transformation? Digital transformation is an endeavour undertaken by companies to incorporate digital technologies into its everyday operations such as sales, marketing, human resources and management. Digital systems—as opposed to analogue ones—are fast and nimble, allowing an organization to quickly adjust to unexpected supply chain disruptions, sudden market pressures, and erratic customer expectations.
But while hitherto, digital transformation has been seen mainly as a means to increase efficiency and accessibility, recent developments from the tech industry have changed such a view. Some modern technologies are so powerful that a failure to integrate them into your company’s operations may handicap you.
These are the technologies that are powering widespread enterprise digital transformation across all sectors of the economy. They have almost made such transformation a necessity, with early adopters likely accruing large head starts, and late parties at risk of being left behind for good.
In business, Artificial intelligence simply means the use of intelligent computer software capable of processing and analyzing vast amounts of data to improve business processes. AI can help in all sorts of areas, including but not limited to: raising revenue, improving customer experience, personalizing marketing, and increasing productivity.
In fact AI is so powerful that, according to a report by Accenture, it will increase global productivity by 40%! “AI is no longer a ‘nice to have’ or a set of cool tools to impress management,” states Accenture “AI and data strategies are becoming the very core of business.”
Internet of things
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to any network of physical objects—things—embedded with sensors, software and other technologies. These ‘smart’ objects connect with each other on a shared network and exchange data to perform useful tasks.
“Few emerging technologies offer more transformative potential for forward-thinking companies than the IoT,” says a report by the Harvard Business Review. “The reason: It combines sensors and sophisticated software analytics to process large volumes of operational data.” IoT applications can create new efficiencies in manufacturing, perform quality control, improve the tracking of physical assets, be used in wearables for human health analytics and enable business process change.
Companies are beginning to see the many benefits of integrating this technology in their businesses. The increased bandwidth speed enabled by the rapid adoption of 5G—upto 100 times faster than 4G—will allow IoT solutions to become much more powerful, so this technology can yet grow much further.
Perhaps the first technology a digital transformation company will turn to integrate is Automation—it’s benefits are immediately obvious. It refers to the process by which business experts encode the models of business processes to create a finished application or software that performs repetitive tasks. This allows human employees to step away from low impact routine tasks and focus on higher value work.
The Gartner report states that Hyper Automation is ‘a state in which organizations use a combination of AI and ML to rapidly identify and automate all possible business processes’. They project that robotic process automation (RPA) will grow by 40% year over year.
More and more companies are utilizing automation for production and manufacturing. The developments in this field have allowed integration of robotics and machine to machine collaboration, allowing many laborious tasks to be completely free of human involvement.
Finally, blockchain is perhaps the newest technology in this list. Although blockchain can be complicated, the core concept is simple: it is merely a decentralized database.
First developed in the creation of Bitcoin, the uses of Blockchain extend beyond cryptocurrencies. Blockchain technology gives companies the ability to use a secure distributed ledger for all manner of purposes.
‘A distributed ledger,’ according to Investopedia ‘is a database that is consensually shared and synchronized across multiple sites, institutions, or geographies, accessible by multiple people. It allows transactions to have public “witnesses”‘.
Companies can have their contracts, transactions, financing, record keeping and more stored and secured. A use-case that merits special highlighting is supply chain management. Most systems in a supply chain are composed of separate databases whose records are kept centrally. This can make acquiring verifiable information about shipments and consignments nearly impossible for the person tasked with supply chain management. Blockchain, as you can probably guess, can help enormously with such management of supply chains.
With the indisputable potential these new technologies show, and the exciting innovations sure to come in the near future as they evolve further, companies may fall behind if they’re not pursuing digital transformation with urgency and weight. It is no coincidence that companies who have gone furthest in the integration of such technologies—Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix—are the biggest companies in the world. If an organization wants to scale up onto a higher level, digital transformation is key.