Digital transformation can impact every area of business. In the finance department, machine learning can automate manual processes like invoice tracking. For marketing folks, there’s no question that cloud computing will make an impact in how files are stored and accessed.
Yet, for some companies, digital transformation becomes more of a concept and something to study and analyze, without becoming an actual part of business plans. One reason is that companies are concerned that any disruption will cause problems with customer services, sales, support, and other areas. However, avoiding digital transformation is a recipe for disaster.
Disruptive technology is important for several critical reasons as a way to help any company. The important factors to remember here are that technology is not disruptive on its own - it is the business workflows, employees, customers, and partners who all benefit the most.
It might be easy to analyze and track new technologies as a curiosity or even out of pure interest, but when those technologies become available, they can make a dramatic impact in how a company actually operates.
1. Business workflows will improve
Digital transformation can have the most impact on a business when it comes to automating workflows. That’s because some of the most disruptive technologies - such as machine learning, voice bots like Amazon Alexa, and artificial intelligence - are helping to automate mundane tasks and improve how a business runs.
One clear example of this concerns sales automation. Artificial intelligence can help track sales calls and even analyze actual sales call logs to see if the sales process is followed correctly. Managers can receive reports about the call logs (transcribed by bots) and adjust the workflow procedures. When the workflows improve, sales int he company go up - thanks to the new tech advancements.
2. Customers will notice
A side benefit to digital transformation - yet one that is also critically important - is that customers will often notice when a company embraces such changes. Being dynamic can be a signpost for customers that a company is moving forward, embracing new technology, and even that they are looking out for customers by making communication and automation easier.
Customers notice when companies streamline their customer support using machine learning and artificial intelligence. They also notice when it is easier to reach a customer support line when a company embraces new technologies and software related to customer management.
And this has a snowball effect. The more you transform your business and deploy disruptive technologies, the more customers will view the brand and segment you’re in as keeping up with trends.
3. Employees will collaborate more
Another ancillary benefit to digital transformation has to do with a greater amount of employee collaboration.
It is always amazing to witness this in any business. With a new innovation such as collaborative communication, the signs are obvious - employees discuss projects more often and tend to reach consensus faster.
Yet, with disruptive technology like 5G, it also means employees have more reliable access to a connection from more devices they use, and the connections are faster and smoother. With machine learning, there’s a disruption in many areas of business, but employees can use AI tools for more automated messaging or help them communicate in other ways. What appears to be a transformation in one area of business such as finance or marketing also makes it easier for employees to do their jobs.
4. The culture changes and moves forward
When business culture stays stagnant, it can cause problems for every department and every employee. Think about the companies that have embraced digital transformation, such as Apple and Microsoft. The fabric that connects them is a willingness to improve and advance thanks to the digital transformation.
One example of this is Apple's new headquarters. The design of the building - which looks a bit like a flying saucer - makes use of collaborative workspaces where employees are able to connect and share ideas. This helps the culture at the company because everyone is on the same page and working in more of a tight-knit fashion.
A collaborative environment benefits from disruptive technologies such as Wi-Fi 6 (for faster and more reliable connections at workstations), digital whiteboards, and new designs in office furniture. Most importantly, employee culture shifts and moves forward.
5. Costs go down
Let’s face it, the underlying reason to embrace digital transformation is ultimately cost-related. New technologies such as machine learning, augmented reality, data analytics, and cloud computing are not just interesting and valid - they tend to lower operational costs.
As an example, augmented reality allows employees to test and evaluate new procedures and products without actually building them or buying them (they rely on the virtual version). Cloud computing means the storage can be managed by outside vendors, which frees up internal employees to work on other projects and worry less about storage concerns.
6. Business owners will be motivated
One interesting impact that digital transformation has is that it motivates the executive team - the owners and partners related to the firm. There is a clear benefit to positioning a company as being not just aware of trends ut as improving and growing because of them, which can attract new stakeholders and help the executive team to see new opportunities. This might even help executives to see new avenues for growth. For example, with cloud computing, once the existing businesses benefit from the easier, more flexible storage, it could spawn new ideas for other product lines, new departments, or even new companies.
In the end, disruption on its own is not enough to make operational changes and create a new way of doing business. What really makes the most impact is when digital transformation becomes part of your current processes, which should stay somewhat immune to trends. The real benefit is when the process is customized for your business but then augmented and enhanced by digital transformation. That is the ultimate, worthwhile benefit.