Leverage Digital Technology


How to leverage digital technologies for your business?

Digital technology is transforming business operations, industries, markets, economies, customer and social experience. Given the rapid pace of technology advancement and innovation, disruption is inevitable. In this blog we are going to look at how best to utilize our 4 step strategy management process to leverage digital technologies. This will enable you to address business challenges and to take advantage of opportunities. Subsequently I will briefly discuss four digital technologies: cloud, big data & analytics, mobile and social media.

The strategic context (organization internal and external environment) is unique for most organizations. Although the common theme is technology. Should you decide to change or transform your business, it is however not a good idea to only focus on technology. Begin with how you can deliver greater value to customers through technology, your requirements (business goals) will then lead to a strategic solution. It is best to view technology as an enabler to deliver your business goals. The business challenges and opportunities may include the following:

Challenges:

  • Budget constraints.

  • Legacy IT infrastructure (complex deployment and ability to scale).

  • Rapid technology advancement.

  • Low speed to market.

  • Security concerns.

  • Resilience, governance and regulatory compliance.

  • Massive data (structured and unstructured).

  • Changing market and industry conditions.

Opportunities:

  • Cost management/saving.

  • Business development.

  • Increase revenue.

  • Grow market share.

  • Create new markets.

  • On demand resource provisioning using cloud technology.

  • Automation, agility and digitization.

  • Customer experience and engagement.

  • Strategic innovation.

Our 4 step strategy management process is depicted in the diagram below.

Figure 1 Four step strategy management process to leverage digital technologies

The first step (Imagine) is used to understand business requirements and goals. The assessment will identify gaps and quick wins (low hanging fruits). The second step (Invent) will basically design future state or digital vision to address the business requirements. Set business objectives and goals, for example, improve customer experience, engagement and faster time to market etc. Define what good looks like in the next 3 - 5 years? Keeping in mind the rapid pace of technology advancement and disruption, the digital vision will need to be both tactical and strategic. What needs to be done to address challenges and leverage opportunities, minimize organization threats and expand its strength? What digital technologies will be used? for example, cloud, big data & analytics, AI & machine learning, mobile and social media etc. The business case must include all these requirements, costs and return on investment (ROI). It should be reviewed and approved by the CEO and the Board. The third step (Ignite) should first assess readiness for change. Holt et al (2007) suggests organizations to consider the following principles before they implement change/strategy:

  • A change is necessary.

  • The change could be implemented.

  • The change would be organizationally beneficial.

  • The organizational leaders are committed to the change.

For most organizations this kind of change will be evolutionary, however for some this will be revolutionary (transformation). These principles will address the structural, procedural, and emotional context, for example, mobilizing people with on the change/strategy journey (Digital vision). The fourth step (Measure) will ensure the organization is achieving the anticipated ROI and execution is successful.

Digital technologies

It is important to understand the functionalities, suppliers and benefits of these technologies.

Cloud

Cloud computing is a revolution of the traditional Information Technology (IT) data center. It is changing the way we consume compute services. I like the Amazon Web Services (AWS) definition of cloud computing - the on-demand delivery of IT resources and applications via the internet, with pay-as-you-go pricing. What this essentially mean for me is that AWS is like Uber for IT Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), hence according to Gartner research (2017), AWS is a global market leader in IaaS.

Some organizations are leaving behind the cloud experimentation stage and are looking for strategic partnerships with cloud technology providers. The IaaS market is currently dominated by AWS and Microsoft Azure, Software as a Service (SaaS) market is dominated by Salesforce and Oracle. The last cloud offering is Platform as a Service (PaaS) and is dominated by Google Cloud Platform. Due to a highly contested market, AWS is beginning to expand to SaaS. Multiple SaaS vendors are diversifying in IaaS, for example SAP partners with Microsoft etc.

Based on the required business solution, organizations can go for a Public, Private or Hybrid cloud solution.

Big data and Analytics

Big data refers to data because of its size, velocity, volume, variety cannot be easily stored, manipulated and analyzed with traditional methods. Its not regular data or business as usual.

Data is becoming the life blood of many organizations. Sometimes data itself can become a product. For example, according to Bonnet and Westerman (2015) in the Harvard Business Review, "The Best Digital Business Models Put Evolution Before Revolution". Entravision Communication Corporate managed to monetize data and insights. The company was in the media business and evolved its business model. Luminar as a result was born, Luminar is a dedicated business unit that shifted from delivering internal analytics to offering big data as a service to external clients. Some benefits of data, include informed decision making, understanding customer behaviors etc.

Mobile and Social Media

Agility is becoming an increasingly important requirement. Mobile (smartphone) is a convenient delivery device or channel for most organizations. In fact most organizations are now competing on mobile app development to provide a superior customer experience and to get a slice in the growing smartphone, on-demand economy. Smartphones enable us to connect and communicate via internet using social media platforms, for example, facebook, twitter etc. Mobility is changing the nature of work. As such repetitive tasks are diminishing and a greater percentage of work is becoming collaborative in nature. Mobility/Digital enable us to work from any location where there's internet connectivity and on many different mobile devices.

Social media is an online environment where content is created, consumed, promoted, distributed, discovered or shared for purposes that are primarily related to communities and social activities rather than to functional, task-oriented objectives. "Media", in this context, represents an environment characterized by storage and transmission, while "social" describes the distinct way these messages propagate in one-to-many fashion (Gartner).

Many organizations are still skeptical about adopting social media strategies and using social media data. This is due to the legitimacy of social media content. Leveraging digital technologies is key for every business.

The next blog will focus on each digital technology use case. Stay tuned for more and subscribe to receive our news or latest blog.

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