Digital transformation as a concept is something we liken to the Y2K phenomenon, brought about by the IT industry as a way of creating and driving new business opportunities, but it isn’t actually something new.
The reality is that businesses like ours, that deliver ERP solutions for brands across verticals and market segments, have been digitally transforming businesses for 25 years, we just didn’t call it that.
The ability to build an ideal solution for any organisation size or sector undoubtedly shifts closer to becoming a reality with each technology advancement, but is not fundamentally different to what we were doing historically despite its new name.
It reminds me a bit of the artist formerly known as Prince. His music remained the same, perhaps evolving as styles and melodies changed, but his name changed a few times over the span of his career, and each time, was timed as a means of reinvention over the decades.
A great example of early digital transformation, was the big drive to become a paperless society, community and office. The legacy systems of today, were at the time, the modern ERP systems, that delivered this exact capability. It was, at the time, digital transformation.
Making sure that organisations have best practice systems and processes, to automate and digitise tasks like expense claim approvals, transferring of funds and increasing customer limits, came about with the implementation of ERP. It was / is digital transformation.
We can liken digital transformation to the process of getting the business owner of old, that used to make notes on the back of his cigarette box, and getting him to rather write it onto a system (and potentially automate and digitise some of the functionality).
The digital transformation conundrum is not that businesses aren’t doing it, it is that they are being led to believe it is a completely different business solution. We continue to talk to our customers about streamlining business processes, becoming more efficient and finding ways to delight their customers (or clients). You could say, businesses like ours, have got 25 years experience in digital transformation.
Where digital transformation has the greatest opportunity to transform a sector, is those verticals that have traditionally been non-high tech dependent. We can all cite examples of digitally transformed companies in the consumer services; financial services and insurance sector, but there are a handful in the healthcare, engineering and FMCG sectors, that spring to mind.
We believe that the paradigm shift that we are currently undergoing, will necessitate non-high tech dependent organisations and industry sectors, to critically evaluate their business and prioritise digital transformation as a strategic imperative.
That, or the organisations that lag behind, risk becoming obsolete and replaced by digitally agile, automated and efficient competitors.
The upside, is that many companies are further along the digital transformation journey than they think they are, the next chapters will depend entirely on the partners they choose, the consultancy and business solutions they adopt, to drive progress.
We do not anticipate the narrative about strategic imperatives for businesses across all industries, and of all sizes to change. 2018 will continue to be characterised by digital transformation, but instead of getting caught up in the hype, we see an opportunity to better educate organisations about the systems they have in place, and how technology advancements can drive their businesses into the future.