As we're now in 2015, it should come as no surprise to business leaders that we are very much in the digital age. Digital disruption is taking place across industries, functions and business processes, as they introduce cloud, mobile, social and big data. But the problem is that not every organisation or industry is following suit. And businesses are now falling into two categories: those that have already been disrupted and reshaped by digital, and those that have yet to be.
Sooner or later though, all businesses and industries will digitise. And the savvy company will recognise that the quicker they do it, the better competitive advantage they will have. As Accenture Technology Vision 2014 put it: "Procter & Gamble, Tesco, Disney, GE – these are just a few of the global 2,000 that are now in a race to become digital. Those that get there first will be able to disrupt their existing markets and penetrate new ones." Make no mistake; this is very much a race.
Across the board
There is often a misconception though, that just because a company is on Twitter and uses digital techniques for sales and marketing, that it has digitised. But this is just not the case. Digitisation applies to all functions and processes. And it is no longer enough to only focus on customer-facing functions and processes and leave back-office processes in the dark ages.
In order to become a successful digital business, it's imperative that all business processes be re-evaluated. If not, there will ultimately be a disconnect in terms of efficiency, access to data and visibility across the end-to-end process – resulting in delays and errors, which aren't acceptable in this new digital world.
Take supplier-facing processes, such as procure-to-pay (P2P) or source-to-pay, for example. In the digital world, it is paramount that businesses collect and analyse data at every stage of the process to better understand performance, cost drivers and risks. But how effectively can this really be done in a paper or manual environment?
In many cases, the end-to-end process may need to be re-engineered to be more agile, flexible and value-adding. Digitising P2P processes will not only mean faster, more accurate processes, but also access to information and data like never before, and collaboration and visibility on a whole new level.
McKinsey sums it up succinctly when it notes: "Digital winners are also creating the right scale of investment in their IT infrastructure. It's very hard to keep up with the pace of evolution in the digital world unless you have a flexible IT infrastructure and one that can plug and play products and services from other places."
It is without doubt that going digital is a significant undertaking, with lots of moving parts and stakeholders. However, whether a company has already put together a digital strategy or it's just dawning on them how important such a strategy will be, they should act quickly. Digitisation is the future of business and the race starts now to get ahead of the competition.
- Vishal Patel is Senior Solutions Manager at Tradeshift