Digital transformation – in business – is driven by changes in the broader business ecosystem. It is driven by the need, desire, opportunity, and/or rationale to optimize or find transformative ways to increase revenues, find new revenue streams, better engage stakeholders, create human value and enhance experiences, save costs, improve efficiency, pro-dapt and tackle evolutions and opportunities in a way that makes sense and delivers clear benefits.
Digital transformation can be induced by several factors and cover several business aspects, from business models to business processes and specific projects, for instance to enhance customer experience in an enterprise-wide and end-to-end customer experience sense.
We covered several of these factors in-depth in our digital transformation guide. For some businesses, digital transformation is really about catching up with a changed ecosystem reality (customer expectations, usage of technology, disruptive newcomers or simply the behavior and preferences of stakeholders which had changed since a long time).
Technology connects, stakeholders are hyper-connected
Other businesses confuse digital transformation with digitization and some even seem to think digital transformaton is optimization or automation or, worse, another word for restructuring.
For those who understand that digital transformation is not some bolt-on strategy for the short run but that a digital transformation strategy is as much about culture, profound change and a step-by-step approach, led top down, the stakeholders (workers, customers, “users”, partners, shareholders…) take center stage.
The key questions which guide their digital transformation projects and enterprise-wide initiatives always revolve around how to better serve these stakeholders, across everything that influences their goals, from usability and processes to involvement, the creation of value and the development of new capabilities to do so.
Smart businesses know that the true meaning and value ultimately lies in how they can connect the various needs and goals of all stakeholders.
They design their transformations with that in mind. And they know that all stakeholders in any project, process or ecosystem are extremely connected, each playing a key part in what’s still human business.
Disruptive organizations succeed because they understand how to leverage technologies better to serve the goals of people.
Hyper-connectivity in technology at the service of human value
The technological dimensions of hyper-connectivity serve the goals of creating stakeholder value in smarter, better, faster, cheaper and more informed ways.
And, obviously, all the technologies are connected as well. Think, for instance about how the Internet of Things, the cloud, big data analytics and artificial intelligence are connected – at the service of human value – as the image below shows.
The Internet of Things connects devices, sensors, data, processes and connectivity solutions, resulting in actionable intelligence and benefits, from the most simple to the most complex application. It is another means to an end: creating value for stakeholders, regardless whom they are in any type of Internet of Things application.
Mobility enables people to be ‘hyper-connected’ in a sense of having access to information, other people, businesses, networks and applications, regardless of the when, where and how. But here as well it’s not about the technological dimensions as such. It’s about the human ‘mobile ability’. And in a context of our Internet of Things example about the so many approaches possible to connect devices, transport data, and in the end, access applications.
Big data, for instance a context of dealing with ever more unstructured data to derive value and actionable value from it, is not just about business process optimization (even if the integration of processes and information is key) and , automation or the ways we enhance our data and information management efforts across silos.
It’s about improving customer experience, creating value for stakeholders and enhancing society and/or people’s lives, whether it’s in their capacity as workers, consumers, investors, citizens and so on. In our Internet of Things image example it’s about analyzing the data to turn it into actions and ultimately human outcomes and experiences.
The exact same thing goes for social technologies, collaboration and UC, artificial intelligence and cognitive computing (essentially used to make sense of big data and its sources such as the Internet of Things, mobile devices and social platforms, to name a few), the cloud, you name it.
Information is the lifeblood of business AND of human relationships (which business is about).
At the edge of each process, experience and transformation are people – connected by information
All the technologies which we use need to be seen through this prism of people. At the edge of a process is a worker, a user, a consumer.
At the edge of a cloud application sits a person. And the goal of digital transformation serves a human purpose. Disruptive organizations only succeed because they understand how to leverage (big) data, mobile context, the cloud and so much more technologies better to serve that stakeholder purpose, often in the last mile, at the edge.
Information has a key role in it all. It is not just the lifeblood of business but also the lifeblood of human relationships as Charlene Li said.
How else could it be as business, human relationships and purpose, and indeed technologies which essentially revolve around information, are more connected than ever?
There sits the opportunity of our times – to leverage technology and augment individual talent and collective capability, to truly unleash human potential (Ravi Kumar S., Infosys)
Obviously it isn’t always easy to create value for all stakeholders, especially if these stakeholders have different goals.
Automation saves costs but it costs jobs. Maximizing shareholder value can cost jobs too, even if it’s maybe not even strictly necessary. It is a balancing act, not just for organizations but also for governments. Digital transformation does come with human costs.
That balancing act, the creation of tangible value for stakeholders and the usage of technologies is that prism through which we look at the effective usage of any technology used in digital transformation whatsoever, away from the hype, and with a focus on actual benefits.
Next: Digitalization and the human element in digital change.
Top image: Shutterstock – Copyright: muratart