Digital Transformation

by T.M. Ravi, Managing Director, The Hive

Digital Transformation enables businesses to be agile and deliver seamless customer experiences by leveraging digital technologies driven by data and AI.

The central focus of digital transformation is customer experience — being able to identify what customers want and delighting them with a seamless experience across their lifecycle. Businesses are embracing customer experiences that are digitally driven and omnichannel, so that they can deliver products and services to customers when they want, where they want and how they want. Customers want that experience to be in-context and personalized to them.

To realize the goals of digital transformation, the business has to drive transformation across three areas:

· Business Processes

· Systems (Technology)

· People

Businesses processes, the set of workflows and tasks to deliver an internal or external service, have been typically implemented to address business needs of the past. Businesses that are trying to transform find that the underlying business processes have become an obstacle. Business processes have to adapt to the new customer and market needs and this change is required not just for customer facing processes (sales, marketing, customer service…) but for business processes across every other function (finance, legal, HR, procurement, supply chain…). Enterprises need business processes that are fluid and continuously adapt to the needs of the business. Business process changes in the past were delivered by consulting led re-engineering projects but today we are seeing the availability of AI based continuous business process optimization solutions to help future proof the business.

Businesses have traditionally had separate customer facing front office functions and back office operations to support various corporate functions. Digital transformation is driving a move towards OneOfficeTM [1], breaking down the barriers between the front office and back office and enabling processes that are seamlessly integrated across functions to deliver customer and business outcomes.

Systems of Record, the source of truth for CRM, ERP, HR, ITSM…, have served as the backbone systems for enterprise business processes.

Digitally driven enterprises are moving beyond traditional workflow systems based on repositories of transactional data to systems of decision making that use data and AI to drive intelligent and automated decision making. Big data technologies such as Apache Spark and Hadoop, have commoditized the capture, processing and storage of data and enterprises are now able to leverage human generated data and machine data (e.g. IoT) in addition to transactional data for decision making.

Advances in AI have made it possible to deliver very complex and specialized decisions in a data-driven manner by the application of digitally curated domain knowledge and training from the behavior of human subject matter experts. This is driving the closed-loop optimization of business and operational processes in both enterprise and industrial settings.

The cloud has been a key enabler for agile applications with low cost of user provisioning, rapid functionality changes, easy API based integrations and on-demand scalability. SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) has also enabled new business models with a shift away from asset-based models towards service-based models.

People are as critical to digital transformation as technology systems and business processes are. Enterprises are seeing growing adoption of technologies like Intelligent Process Automation (IPA), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), chatbots and software robots that are working to assist, augment and automate processes to be faster, more accurate, and scalable. Many manual, repetitive and simple decision-making tasks are getting automated and as a result, we are seeing a change to the nature of work. The emerging digital workforce in the form of bots, virtual assistants and software robots is becoming the key driver of transformation. It is accelerating re-training and re-skilling employees and change management in the organization by consistently scaling new skills across the enterprise. It is mitigating limitations of competencies and culture by augmenting the human workforce. The “gig economy” has resulted in many new businesses that enable flexible ways to work orchestrated by the digital workforce.

The Chief Data Officer (CDO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO) are key leaders in an organization who understand how to leverage data, analytics and AI to drive transformation across different enterprise functions. Starting with the establishment of a solid foundation for data management and data quality, digital risks associated with security, privacy and data governance have to be managed. The main focus of CDO or CIO is to partner with business to enable processes in each function and across functions to be data-driven.

Different industries are realizing that the time to use digital technologies to innovate is now or they will die. AI is driving a transformative impact on products and services in every industry — healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, energy, financial services, insurance, etc., enabling a new era of growth for incumbents who effectively transform themselves. This transformation is not just critical for enterprises but also for government and defense organizations that have to also keep pace with the rapid rate of innovation.


Sources

  1. Defining the Digital OneOffice Organization, Jan 2, 2017, Phil Fersht, https://www.hfsresearch.com/pointsofview/Defining-the-Digital-OneOffice-Organization