Digital Transformation, from the face of it, sounds like a technology-only exercise, but in reality it is not. This is not just my opinion. Many experts also have the same opinion – Digital transformation is as much about culture shift (if not more) as it is about technology shift. And the reason is mostly due to complexity – technology generally maintains a binary state (very digital), either it works or it does not. Culture, however, is all about people – and there could be way more than fifty shades of grey that you may end up finding.
But you’re not on this post to check ideas on culture shift. So, let’s just recognize the big elephant in the room and work around it for now. We’ll discuss about culture shift in another post. Just note that in some contexts the lines between technology and culture could get a bit blurry.
So, what are the technology tools for digital transformation? The answer is both straight-forward as well as extremely complex. Let’s start with the simple and straight-forward part – Any and all available (or nearly available) digital technologies in the market-place should be in your catalogue. However, look at the catalogue with lenses of your market/industry and customers.
Let’s check a few examples of technologies that are already available or are coming close to becoming available:
Customer Interaction & Engagement
These technologies allow for better customer interaction and engagement and facilitate an always connected environment.
- Web/Mobile/Tablet/Digital TV
- Internet of Things
- Digital Walls
- Social Media
- User-generated Content
Web/Mobile/Tablet/Digital TV allow for ease of information access, use and interaction by customers. They could help you tremendously with customer connection and engagement with your brands. From the face of it, wearables and internet of things look a bit more specialized as they exist primarily as objective-centric products. However, bringing a bit more creativity into the game may allow you to engage even more with the customer as they could allow for interaction and availability beyond the times a customer is in front of a screen. Digital walls are in the very early stages of their application. But this is one technology that has the potential to completely change the world as soon as the prices start to go down. Do note that Social Media, User-generated Content and User-Platforms have a huge overlap with Culture-shift. These have the potential to drive tremendous engagement on the customer-front.
Information Technology Scaling & Evolution
Today’s organizations need to build their structures next to a sea of information. Organizational strategies will define how much they plan to go in to this sea for their operations. In one form or another, in one scale or another, they need to create a flow of this information to drive their business forward. And making all this happen is the foundation of their information technology. This foundation will however not remain static – it will scale and evolve fast. How fast it will be able to scale and evolve will depend upon the foundational structure that is set up. Some of the key technologies or technology approaches to look into are:
- Big Data/Visualization
- Artificial Intelligence
- Open-Source/Community-generated Code
Production & Logistics
Not all organizations operate solely in the world of information. They also need to operate in the worlds of production, manufacturing, logistics, supply chain etc. All of these involve interaction with the physical world. The technologies out here are very different and could span beyond the pure digital world. Even then, they would have a huge connectivity with the digital world at least through information exchange. Below are some technologies that are starting to shape that world:
- 3D Printing
- Advanced Sensors
- Driverless Cars
Now, this is perhaps just scratching the surface. Each of these sections need to be discussed in detail and then, there are surely other technologies that are not included in the lists above. We’ll have to cover those as well. But that is for another day. For now, good bye and cheers!