Competing effectively in a digital economy

Digital Transformation

Unify Issue 4

In industry and in business, real technological game changers haven’t come along that often. Iron and steel, steam, electricity, mechanisation, telephony, computers, automation, mobility and the Internet are arguably the major milestones.

To that list we must now add digital transformation: the integration of contemporary digital technologies across every area of a business – regardless of size – driving fundamental change in the way it operates, communicates and manages relationships with its customers, partners and suppliers.

So profound is it that analysts are calling it Business 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution.

Many believe it will do for business what the cloud did for IT.

Key findings

Thanks to technology, the power balance within the purchasing cycle has shifted. Customers now drive the conversation, while suppliers are left to cater to their rising demands. The result is that all businesses have had to rethink their digital strategies in order to meet customer expectations. The game has changed, and business communications must change with it.

To find out how organisations are coping with these pressures, Gamma surveyed 407 IT decision makers about their experiences on the field of digital change.

As it turns out, they’re experiencing real, tangible benefits. While the main driver for digital transformation has been meeting consumer expectation, the results have instead been a boost in operational efficiency as well as sales.
It’s little wonder then that an overwhelming 78% of respondents would prefer if the pace of digital transformation in their organisation was faster.

But before technology can transform, management must transform first. IT leaders and the wider C-suite must be on the same page if they are to embark on the same journey. You can download a copy of Gamma’s Digital Transformation Report from: www.gamma.co.uk/transformation-game

But rather than a purely technological transformation, it is a business transformation too. A change in thinking and culture at the very heart of the organisation. Requiring companies to question how they currently operate and to test and deliver new ways of working, new businesses processes, adopt new mindsets. Moving from a product-centric to a customercentric philosophy.

It portends a time when as much as one third of a business’ value will be digitally derived. And already company boards are taking notice with CIOs looking to define and implement digital transformation agendas before the competition beats them to the punch.

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At root digital transformation is about creating smart, customerfocused companies through a combination of flexible and open IT systems, APIs and intelligent devices brought together by high capacity communications services.

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Gamma is already working with many large enterprises on their digital transformation strategies, supporting their virtualisation, cloud computing and telephony initiatives, and giving them a communications infrastructure on which to explore and develop further innovation and even greater levels of flexibility.

Why transform?

Most organisations now recognise that digital transformation is crucial to competing in the digital age. As a recent poll by Gamma shows, 87% of the more than 400 companies taking part have already begun transformation projects, with more than three quarters of those wishing they’d started sooner.

The reported benefits of digital transformation are a powerful incentive. Gamma’s research points to increased efficiency of business processes, improved customer satisfaction, better revenue growth and significantly lower IT costs.

Customers have led 60% of organisations to up their digital game

But increasingly it is customer expectation that is leading companies into digital transformation. The Gamma study reveals that the changing demands of customers have led 60% of organisations to up their digital game, while 57% saw it as a way of increasing business performance.

Putting communications first Truly seamless interaction with customers, partners and suppliers is paramount in digital transformation, with all channels of communication playing a part. While email, messaging and social media all have a part to play, Gamma’s research shows that for most organisations – and certainly for their customers – voice still remains pre-eminent.

Yet nearly three quarters of those contributing to the research felt their companies were not making best use of voice and, worse still, the larger business community was gradually losing the art of conversation.

Equally surprising, in a world of digital, cloud and converged communications many firms still rely on traditional hardware PBX-centric voice infrastructures. A switch to an alternative technology – say cloud voice – would be a relatively painless, yet valuable first step towards larger overall digital transformation.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is much talked about in the context of digital transformation. The term describes connected intelligent devices, anything from cars and industrial ovens to plant waterers and office security sensors, all communicating with each other, with us via apps and with automated back end systems over the internet. Many such devices already exist and it is estimated that more than 26 billion will be live and connected by the year 2020. That is to say four connected things for every man, woman and child on the planet.

Examples of IoT are not hard to find. Gamma is already involved in a project to roll out smart energy meters across the UK. These devices monitor energy consumption. The data they produce can help generators, wind farms and hydro schemes measure and meet demand in a way that was never possible before, leading to reduced bills for consumers.

Gamma is also involved with a scheme that uses connected occupancy sensors to enhance the security and energy efficiency of buildings, and to alert contractors when public spaces require cleaning.

And the concept of IoT is not just restricted to buildings. Already smart cities are being discussed. Imagine interconnected traffic lights that automatically regulate and ease traffic flow during rush hour. Sensors that detect when potholes appear and need repairing. Smart waste bins that can monitor remaining capacity and create adaptive refuse collection days.

Transforming industries If digital transformation is not just about technology, then it is also not just about technology businesses or the overhyped technology start-up scene. Airbnb and Uber are often cited as examples of technology-enabled disruptors.

But similar digital transformation is happening in all industries, and in the public sector too. It is independent of business areas, markets and sectors.

Also emerging are transformational partnerships where established businesses are partnering with disruptive newcomers to make the job of transformation easier and less costly for both.

The traditional company gets instant, valuable insight into transforming itself. The new company gets the credibility, wisdom and experience of a long-standing player.

Transforming experiences

Customer experience is often the key driver for digital transformation. Marketing, customer service and other customer-facing functions are usually among the priorities during digital transformation projects.

The end-to-end digital customer journey begins with data and intelligent marketing, social networking, CRM and the call centre and it goes all the way through the organisation to service, fulfilment and support, all informed by a common data set and a single view of the customer experience.

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The retail business is one of the most rapidly changing industries in the world and is particularly good at exploiting technology to keep up with ever-changing customer needs.

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Retailers are coming up with more and more innovative ways of connecting customers’ in-store experience with their online digital experience, improving supply chains, and overhauling fulfilment and backoffice processes. And these same changes are taking place across the entire business community, not just in retail.

With the help of enabling infrastructure providers like Gamma, a new breed of digital business, powered by successful and sustained digital transformation, is challenging what is possible, seizing market share and disrupting the status quo. The question is no longer if to digitally transform, but when.