Take these high-profile companies that tragically refused to embrace change, which ultimately led to their demise
Kodak, founded in 1888, was the leading photographic film company of the twentieth century. Ironically, it was Kodak that developed the first digital camera in 1975, but they chose not to run ahead on the very path they had discovered, and the sad result was they filed for bankruptcy in 2012. Kodak chose to stick with the old film business and not pursue the new digital opportunity. (Kodak was relaunched in 2013 but at a vastly reduced size.)
Xerox is another example of a company failing to see the potential of their new technology. The computer mouse (1968) and GUI – Graphical User Interface (early 1970s) were invented by Douglas Englebart, and first adopted and worked on by researchers at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. The Xerox Alto was the first personal computer with windows, icons, menus and pointing devices (WIMP).
And then, that seminal moment in 1979 when Steve Jobs paid for a tour of the Xerox facility, and seeing the great possibilities of GUI, he asked for the documentation for the technology. In 1983, Apple launched the Lisa PC with a windows GUI, followed by Bill Gates launching Windows 2.0 in 1987. The rest is history; Xerox lost out.
More recently, MySpace is an example of a company failing to change with trends. MySpace was the most visited site in America in 2006, and the biggest social media site from 2004-2009. Around that time, along came Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg understood the times better, while MySpace did not, and that was the end for them.
So, throughout history, it is those who change and grow who succeed, while the rest fade away.
What is Digital Transformation?
Transformation means change, and digital transformation is the changing of business processes to become essentially digital and automated.
Digital transformation is actually very practical. It sounds as if it is high-tech, but in the business world, as Calen Laverty, Product Manager at Nimblex, says:
Digital technology extends into all the areas of business processes, meaning that everything has to be integrated and welcomed on board to work properly.
Why? How Digital Transformation Helps an Organisation
What are you trying to achieve with bringing in digital transformation? Knowing the “why” will help get everyone on board and justify the initial costs.
Helps an organisation be competitive
In order to remain competitive, an organisation needs to keep in step with the changing world, where internal business and customers are going digital and online.
At the end of the day, all business is about the customer, as this is where the income comes from. If you can provide the best product or service, your customers will be happy, and your company will grow. Going digital with business processes helps to keep your company running smoothly and thus keeps your customers satisfied.
In essence, digital transformation provides tools and processes to enable employees to work better and frees them up to bring in innovative ideas.
Everyone is aiming to be better, faster and more efficient than the next, which means that you have to innovate to gain an advantage. Digitisation breathes life into innovative ideas.
Low-to-no code development
With low-code development, innovative digital transformation ideas can be fleshed out into real-world applications without having to employ the services of specialised coders, and without having to empty your IT budget in one swoop.
Low-coding also equates to more flexibility in solution design, and it open wide the doors to configure a system to exact needs, rapidly and cost-effectively. [Read more about low-to-no code.]
Provides predictive analysis
Every company must be agile to keep up with change. Digital business applications give management vital insights for boosting future performance by giving accurate, real-time information about unique processes and enabling you to anticipate needs and respond faster to client demands.
Now more than ever you need to be connected 24/7 everywhere you go: out on site or if you are working from home, you need to be able to work as if you are right there in the office. Technology makes this work.
Brings automation and simplification
Many aspects of business life are repetitive.
For example, document generation. If you are generating documents with no automated workflows and approval processes, think of all the time wasted emailing back and forth for sign-offs, to name one aspect of many.
By digitising processes, you streamline your business, reduce errors and have a permanent record that can be searched and audited.
Works with integrated cloud platforms
Cloud technology has revolutionised the way we communicate and do business.
Cloud-based applications enable information to flow seamlessly between business areas, thus improving operational efficiencies and facilitating more responsive customer service.
The flexibility and real-time accuracy of data also gives management more holistic insights and enables them to respond quickly to market opportunities.
Integration means no more silos
Many commercially off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions still operate in a silo structure towards other applications within an organisation. For example, if you have a cloud-based Risk Management System (from ABC vendor) which does not integrate with your cloud-based Incident Management System (from XYZ vendor), then you fall short of experiencing the benefits that being cloud-based offers.
In a cloud-based business application platform you can configure any type of business solution, share data effortlessly between solutions, and have all functions integrated with each other- all on the same platform.
What Stops Organisations from Embracing Digital Transformation?
Laverty says, that in his experience, these are the main reasons people hesitate to digitally transform:
• The biggest factor is change itself
Change is scary. It involves the unknown. It costs money and time and carries risk as there is no guarantee that the change itself will return the expected benefits. An organisation needs the right people involved to ensure that change is properly implemented and managed so that the benefits can be best realised.
• Cost (time and money)
Many workers are time poor. People that are not specifically working towards innovation pull your attention towards non business-critical processes that may come at the cost of other functions.
The money cost can be a major deterrent before an organisation would even consider doing research. Companies may hear the term ‘digital transformation’ and assume it is a $100K – $1M+ endeavour and just write it off as a large cost without finding out how the benefits of digital transformation can save money in the long term.
Organisations usually do what is most common in their industry. Within an industry, digital transformation might not be common, and so there are fewer benefits spoken about, thus less adoption.
Not being aware of the benefits of digital transformation is a blocker for adoption. The need for education is typically driven by an industry. For instance, the government sector recognises the benefit because of compliance requirements, and therefore there is a need to educate workers in that space.
Change Management: You Need a Roadmap and a Plan
Change can be disruptive and create uncertainty in people, and therefore change management is important when embarking on any digital transformation journey.
The management team that is leading the way needs to reassure their staff and give them the big picture – the reasons why – and to instill confidence that this is the best way forward.
Leaders need to see an aerial view of the roadmap and need to understand the overall digital strategy.
Digital optimisation is not necessarily an entire top-down transformation done all at once, but involves incremental steps towards the desired goal, all while working with the budget at hand.
The Impact of COVID on Digital Transformation
In 2020, COVID 19 put the foot on the accelerator and highlighted the need for companies to go digital to stay competitive and open for business. With the result that even more of our lives are now lived online than ever before, for both work and play. With social media, entertainment, work, shopping and more being conducted online, we have already transformed as a global community.
Digital transformation requires a cultural shift and visionary leadership. It is not just about the technology and processes, but also the company mindset. Fortunately, no matter what industry or size, every company has business processes that could be made smarter with digitisation, and this can be done if led by inspirational leaders.
The transformation process involves trust and courage, and it always has – from the early days of moving from paper to computers; to going online and having a web presence; from cinemas to renting videos to online streaming….onward towards the next era.
By Jeannie De Vynck