“The companies that survive. longest are the ones that work out what they uniquely can give to the world not just growth or money but their excellence, respect for others, or their ability to make people happy. Some call those things a soul.” -Charles Handy

 

Every business has its objectives and values, and each business has a different outlook on digital transformation. Hence, it is impossible to have a specific definition of digital transformation that accumulates all the business norms. In general, digital transformation or DT is the modification of the existing businesses or creating a new one using digital technologies to satisfy the changing business and market necessities.

DT assimilates the new, fast and frequently fluctuating digital technologies to all the parts of the industry, basically renovating how the business operates and deals with its clients. It requires a cultural change where the business undergoes various changes, perform experiments and learn from the failures. It exceeds out-of-date roles like sales, marketing, and customer service. Digital transformation fully revolves around customers; what we think about them and how we interact with them. That is because all the modifications from a traditional business approach to advanced digitalized technology are all so that the customers are well received.

Digital technology is important to all businesses ranging from small companies to multinational business corporations. It is designed to support all range of businesses from small to big and all types of businesses. The integration of digital technologies is bound to improve any business. Careful planning and building digitally will increase the flexibility of the business and keep it ever-ready to grow.

“The safest road to Hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” — C S Lewis

 

Why business needs Digital Transformation

In a technologically advanced world, digital transformation will add value to all the business sectors. This provides them a way to stay ready for advancements that are necessary for this constantly changing marketplace. Even though all the business sectors are different from one another and have different values and beliefs, customers are common in all the business sectors. Digital transformation is integrated focusing on this very factor. Hence, the implementation of DT in any business will help to increase its efficiency and accuracy in the industry.

A digital transformation helps achieve strategic business goals using various digital processes and tools. This is a huge change in the workplace from traditional working procedures to a new innovative system that affects all the parts of the organization. With the digital advancements, customers have been more familiar with digitalization now more than ever. This has drastically reduced almost all the hardships of the people. With digital transformation, businesses stay one step ahead of all their competitors and provide customers with the best and most effective services. Digital transformation focuses on solving problems in a bigger picture, hence, increasing the companies’ value and profit. This will further result in higher employee satisfaction rate as well. Digital transformation not only attracts more customers but also drastically reduces the workload of the employees. Digital transformation doesn’t just make use of tools but also changes how the team in an organization works together to produce better services.

Some of the common points that DT helps in all types of business are as follows:

  1. It helps form a shared vision that helps the team for better engagement, building trust and promoting transparency.
  2. It promotes cloud-based systems and tools that are budget-friendly and easy to choose from according to their needs.
  3. It focusses on providing better services and experiences to the customer increasing customer satisfaction — by integrating future technology and solve bigger problems in an innovative way.
  4. It is innovative in the sense that new experiments are performed and its results are studied to apply across the industry.
  5. It changes the outdated approaches and empowers the employees to make decisions and establish new ideas.
  6. It helps collect data to not just analyze customers but also study the internal events of the company.
  7. It helps companies to keep learning from one another and keep evolving into a better version of themselves.

Simply put, digital transformation is required in businesses for involved employees, better profits, greater flexibility and escaping the proficiency trap.

Charlie Handy’s S Curve

The key to sustaining a healthy business is to transform into a new curve before the current one is too far in decline. When there are the time and resources to get to the new growth curve through the initial learning phase. You may still experience a period of decline as the business goes through the new learning phase to the growth phase. The factors to success during the new growth phase will be different from the factors that lead to the previous growth phase. (Source: https://www.coachingwithnlp.co/sigmoid-curve)

Picture source: https://www.coachingwithnlp.co/sigmoid-curve/

History of Digital transformation

Digital transformation has been a topic of interest since the late 1990s when the internet was first introduced. The computerization of processes had begun almost 30 years ago and today, 30 years later, we have started using digital advancements in the businesses. It is still new to many organizations. There are specifically three definitive periods in digital transformation.

1.Pre-digital Era

The first occurrence of digital transformation, which is also referred to as the Pre-digital era, was when the websites of different companies started connected with their customers. During this time, the technology was limited to infra plus hardware and software modernization. People only needed traditional IT skills for operating the company and most of the vision leaders were CIOs. Customers interacted through physical channels.

2. Digital 1.0

The pre-digital era resulted in an alteration of the market dynamics as the dealers began to realize that customers have the bargaining power. The dealers were forced to involve the customers across various channels by the consumerism trends and developments. The organizations then put together digital teams to ensure these arrangements with customers and thus marked the beginning of Digital 1.0. This era required SMAC (Social, Mobility, Analytics, and Cloud) technology for the business operations and people had to have IT and business skills. Most of the vision leaders were CXOs which means CIOs (Chief Information Officer), CEOs (Chief Executive Officer), CMOs (Chief Marketing Officer) and CDOs (Chief Digital Officer).

3. Digital 2.0

Digital 2.0 is the next phase of digital transformation which includes emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and 3D printing. Now, involvement stakeholders of different levels in the innovation ecosystem are believed to be important for the continuous growth of the business. This helps the organization to stand out from the crowd. Now the business required new advanced technologies like IoT, Big data, robotics, machine learning, and data science. People require expert knowledge on new generation skills like Machine Learning (ML), Data Science, statistics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Most of the strategy and vision holders are CEOs, CMOs and CDOs. Customers receive unified experience across the physical and digital worlds.

In the most recent study conducted by MIT over 50 companies, CXOs have been focusing on three sections: customer experience, operational processes, and business models re-imagining.

Big Data

Big data is a field that analyses and systematically extracts structured, unstructured and semi-structured data of an organization. These extracted data can also be used in machine learning projects, predictive modeling, and other innovative analytics applications. In some cases, it deals with a large or complex set of data by using data-processing software.

Big data is generally described by six Vs:

  1. Volume: the quantity of data from sources
  2. Variety: the types of data like structured, unstructured and semi-structured
  3. Velocity: speed of data creation
  4. Veracity: the point to which big data can be trusted
  5. Value: the business worth of the data accumulated
  6. Variability: how big data can be used and arranged

Big data is implemented in various companies to escalate work efficiency, improve customer service, study the customer preferences to provide better service and increase profit. The data stored and processed by big data can undergo various branches of analytics such as comparative analytics, social media listening, marketing analytics, customer satisfaction, and sentiment analytics.

AI

Ai is Artificial Intelligence and sometimes also referred to as Machine Intelligence. It is a machine that demonstrates human intelligence. It is an area of computer science that focuses on making smart machines that work and react like humans. This process includes learning, reasoning and self-correction. Some of the activities AI is designed for are speech recognition, expert systems, learning, planning, speech recognition, machine vision, and problem-solving.

AI can be divided into two groups: weak AI and Strong AI. Weak AI or Narrow AI is the type of AI that is designed for just one task. Strong AI or Artificial General AI is the type of AI that is designed with general human cognitive abilities. This type of string AI can perform unfamiliar tasks without human guidance.

Artificial Intelligence has been a huge and vital part of technology. AI has provided a wide range of possibilities in the business sector. However, at the same time, some ethical questions have been raised against AI. This is mainly because even though it is developed using deep learning algorithms, it is only as intelligent as the amount of data it has been provided by its developer. So, it must be observed closely all the time.

There are four types of Artificial Intelligence:

Type 1: Reactive Machines

These types of AIs are developed to analyze the possible solution and choose the most strategic one. Once the step is completed it stores no memory of it and starts analyzing the next step without any memory of the previous steps. So it cannot inform its future self for any suggestion.

Type 2: Limited Memory

This type of AI can use past experiences to help in the future decision-making process. However, these decisions are not stored permanently and only near past experiences can be used for future decision making steps.

Type 3: Theory of Mind

This is an AI that is yet to be developed. It stands out in the sense that it understands that every individual has their own beliefs, desires, and intentions that will directly or indirectly affect their decision.

Type 4: Self-Awareness

This AI also is yet to be developed and it has an understanding of self and consciousness. It has the ability to recognize its current state.

Even though AI is an advancing field of computer science, knowledge, reasoning, problem solving, perception, learning, planning and ability to move and manipulate objects are some of the challenges this field faces.

IoT

IoT or Internet of Things is a system that comprises a network of physical objects such as computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, and even animals or people that have a unique identification number. This identification which is known as UID (Unique Identifiers) may be an IP address for internet connection and the communication takes place between the physical objects and the other devices or systems enabled in the network.

IoT exceeds the traditional internet connection system between devices such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, and allows a diverse range of devices and things that are embedded with advanced technology to interact with one another or with the environment through the internet. This communication is performed by transferring data over a network without the necessity of human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

The combination of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), micro-services and the internet has contributed to IoT evolution. This combo has demolished the wall that separated Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) which resulted in the capability of analyzing unstructured machine-generated data. This allows IoT to study the deep-seated data and use it to provide ideas to further improve the business.

Some of the advantages of IoT are:

  1. Observe and study overall business processes
  2. Analyze deep-rooted data for future decision making
  3. Integrate and practice better business models
  4. Improve customer satisfaction
  5. Boost employee productivity and participation
  6. Save time and money
  7. Increase company profits

IoT provides a company with different advanced tools that will enhance the business strategies and innovative approaches to operate the company with increased efficiency, accuracy and fluency.

XR

XR is referred to as eXtended Reality and does not denote a particular technology but is an array of all realities like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed or Merged Reality (MR). These are also regarded as its three pillars. XR is a technologically motorized interaction between humans and machines that is unified through real and virtual scenarios. One of its main features is to cover the distance barrier that we face in almost all the business sectors.

Some of the advantages of XR in the business are:

  1. It allows an effective detailed observation of various situations by providing the digital representation of the scenario that can be viewed from any direction.
  2. It provides a digital 3D illustration of various environments that can be accessed from a single room without even having to move quarter a mile.
  3. It is very useful for a safe training environment where trainees can practice in a digital environment that represents the actual world.
  4. Another most important usage of XR is its ability to eliminate the distance barrier. This feature helps people to perform their tasks even though they are physically absent from the location at the time.

XR helps users to learn and observe details and information from a new reality which is far more superior than they can perceive from their naked senses. Often referred to as eXtended reality or also “cross” reality, when XR is fused with other businesses, it is bound to create innovative advancements and eloquence.

Blockchain

Blockchain is the technology that the collection of lists of records called blocks that are secured and connected to one another using cryptographic principles. Simply put, a blockchain is a series of irreversible records of time-stamped data which is managed by a network of computers and not by a single entity.

Blockchain is a shared and indisputable record and hence it is not controlled by a central authority. Also, the information on it is available for everyone without any transaction cost. The information stored on a blockchain is not located in a single location. Because of these features, the system or information produced on a blockchain has full transparency and all the participants are held responsible for their actions.

The three main pillars of this technology are:

  1. Decentralization
  2. Transparency
  3. immutability

Blockchain has created a foundation for a new form of the internet by allowing the information to be distributed but not copied. This technology was initially designed for digital currency such as Bitcoin for a budgetary transaction, but this technology has the potential for uses such as replacing all practices and business models which rely on transaction of some form.

5G

5G is the fifth and the latest generation of internet connectivity in mobiles and smartphones that provides faster connection speed and better connection reliability. It is the latest network technology that is far faster than its previous generation with an average download speed of around 1GBps. This connection does not limit to just intercommunication between people but extends to communication and control of machines, devices, and objects.

This new generation of connectivity provides a new level of performance and efficiency that has fueled the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) and other new advanced technologies. It has generated a platform that allows the transfer of a huge amount of data resulting in better and improved connectivity.

The use areas of 5G are divided into the following three main types of connected services:

1.Enhanced Mobile Broadband (almost no latency)

Along with improving the smartphone functions, it also improves new immersive and innovative experiences of VR and AR by improving speed and reducing latency.

2.Mission-Critical Communications

5G provides reliability, availability and low latency links for new technologies that can be used to monitor and control systems and objects remotely. No matter where you are, 5G can enhance the accuracy of GPS location detection.

3.Massive Internet of Things

It provides great benefits for embedded systems by connecting the devices with one another using low data rates and power and provides flexibility for extremely low-cost solutions.

5G mobile network is backed up by the Gigabit LTE coverage foundation, which provides universal Gigabit-class connectivity. 5G provides much lower latency for an immediate response and a consistent user experience in general so that the data rates remain constantly high even while the users move around.

Digital Enterprise

A digital enterprise is a concept of using technology as one of the main entities to operate its internal and external functions. Once a business has transited through the digitalization of all its business procedures, it is referred to as Digital Enterprise. However, most of the companies are still unaware of this term and refer to it in various ways. The digitalization of an enterprise can be proved very beneficial for all the companies ranging from small to big.

Digital Enterprise is a collection of a set of technologies whose main objective is to assist businesses to engage with their customers through digital platforms in the most effective way. An actual digital enterprise does not limit to the adaptation of a simple IT program that affects just one part of the business but is the synthesis of various digital elements that brings change in the overall organizational operations affecting every single procedure that takes place in the company and effectively increase productivity and proficiency. Digital enterprise transformation requires integration of information, processes, work, and people so that the entire organization can work together effectively, and therefore result in producing more profitable products and services. This makes the organization more economically competent than other organizations.

Conclusion

The transformation of business and corporations into digitalization has helped flourish many business strategies and services. The inclusion of advanced and innovative technologies in organizations has helped the companies, their employees and clients to a great extent to achieve better work functions.

November 3, 2019
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