Digitalization and Resilience
One of the lessons that this 2020 leaves us is that every company must be digitized.
The health crisis has forced to reduce business activity in all those activities that cannot be carried out in telework mode. This widens the gap between those companies that are already prepared for the digital world and those that are not. If the digitalization of the business was already important before, now it is making a difference between businesses that can continue exercising their activity and those that cannot.
Digital transformation is the reinvention of an organization through the use of digital technology. This encompasses several areas of an organization, to name a few: channels, processes, infrastructure... All of them can be transformed and re-thought. Therefore, the digital company is that one in which practically all of its activities and relationships [with employees, suppliers, and customers] have been digitally transformed. And specifically, the digital-native companies are those that are designed since the beginning to take full advantage of digital technologies.
Some aspects in which technology can help us are:
- Increase engagement with end users. For this, it will be essential to create an omnichannel experience. We know that users are increasingly demanding and that we have to try to reach them through all possible channels: loyalty apps, wearables, Smart TVs, voice assistants ...
- Increase user base. Being able to reach a broader user base through the SEO domain and having a digital version of the store (eCommerce) to sell the products is key at this time. Furthermore, we can improve the store by enabling a chatbot that can help potential customers in their decision-making.
- Process efficiency in the supply chain. Automation of the manufacturing chain and application of sensors for decision-making, such as predictive maintenance of machinery.
- Infrastructure efficiency. At this point, the use of the cloud to build scalable architectures based on demand, and even serverless models, to reduce the initial investment or capex is key.
Each of these aspects deserves to be addressed in detail and deep experience is always a plus. That is why the accompaniment of an expert partner in the application of all these improvements is essential. Nevertheless the simple application of technology is not enough to become a digital company.
The partial application of the digital transformation in one or the other of the company's processes or activities is not enough to compete today. Without understanding business processes, the mere application of technology will not help us and we will continue to be exposed to the disruption of native-digital competitors in our sector.
Beyond the application of new technologies, the digitalization of a company requires important cultural changes and ways of doing. Digital transformation requires general management to be aligned, because it is not an isolated challenge in one division or another, it is a challenge for the entire business. Some of the cultural keys that we must incorporate are:
- First, it takes a lot of empathy to put the user at the center. Empathize with the end customer, put ourselves in their shoes, to place them at the center of the whole process and understand their needs from their point of view and reality.
- Second, it is important to create "co-creation" spaces. Collaborative and diverse teams (with employees, clients, suppliers, experts) multidisciplinary and with great agility. The hierarchies and silos of companies are a major obstacle to digitalization and innovation in the value proposition. In this sense, the realization of workshops based on design thinking helps to get started, as well as building “Teams as a Service” teams focused on delivering value, to face specific challenges.
- Third, it is essential to incorporate service design. Think beyond the product and focus on the experience that customers develop around products to identify new value propositions that can bring a competitive advantage to the company.
- Finally, to ensure that the transformation process is satisfactory, we must be able to implement the data culture in the company. This means embracing the paradigm of data-driven companies: decision-making is based on the intelligence of the data. This is probably the biggest lesson we can take from native-digital companies. The application of sensors in all processes, as well as the taking of data from the final consumer through, for example, the use they make of our apps, combined with the use of big data and machine learning, helps us to make smarter decisions in all areas of the business.
Digitalization requires questioning our existing models and being open to new ways of adding value to the end customer, something that may involve a corporate reorganization. In fact, companies characterized by the existence of silos in their organization will be especially resistant to this change.
At Opentrends we have been accompanying our clients in this transformation process for years. We have the knowledge of technology, and the capabilities of service design, desing thinking, big data and TaaS that allow us to tackle cultural change, without forgetting that the key to success will be the support and sponsorship from those responsible at the highest level of the company.
Author: Martí Fàbrega