The global pandemic has forced many companies to reevaluate their digital strategy. Businesses had to rethink their operations, adopt automation, and come up with new ways to deliver their services. And while many firms are still not ready for the complete system transformation, they became more open to digital acceleration.
In this article, we are going to explore:
- The concept of digital acceleration;
- Its business value;
- How COVID-19 affected the transformation;
- Tech trends that are powering the process;
- Challenges that companies face in their digital journey;
- How to succeed in digital transformation.
Digital acceleration (DA) is a term often used along with digital transformation and digital change. Yet, there's a slight difference between these notions.
- Digital transformation refers to the use of digital technology to transform an organization, its business model, strategy, customer experience, and other business areas.
- Digital adoption is the implementation, integration, and full utilization of technology. For example, enterprise-level digital adoption embraces software implementation and activities required to maximize the ROI of that software.
- Digital acceleration often carries a meaning similar to digital transformation. However, it emphasizes the idea of speed and continuity of the process. It takes a great goal of digital adoption and breaks it into smaller, more realistic goals that can be quickly achieved.
Why are so many companies betting on digital transformation? What makes it so appealing? Typically, digitally savvy companies show better operational efficiency, increased revenues, and a deeper understanding of technology potential .
Here are three major areas of business value that companies can get from DA:
Studies show that tech-savvy companies have higher revenue premiums compared to other businesses in the same industry or field.
Digital transformation and acceleration are beneficial to almost any business unit or department of the company. It allows improving organizational resilience, reaching the highest effectiveness, and therefore generating higher profit margins. 56% of CEOs say digital improvements have led to increased revenue .
Two-thirds of a company’s competitive edge comes from its customer experience . Adoption of new technology allows businesses to interact with their customers better and generate new customer value. For example, mobile technology and faster internet connection boost new ways of customer acquisition and retention, setting the foundation for omnichannel marketing.
Companies that are open to technological advancements are also more likely to adapt to change faster. For example, tech-savvy firms adapted to a remote working mode more quickly than digital laggers . The typical workplace has evolved since the beginning of the pandemic, not to mention the last two or three decades. Companies can now opt for efficient computers and machinery, run remote workplaces, and monitor their processes. Creating a digital workplace and optimizing processes is a vital part of successful transformation.
COVID-19 became a powerful accelerator for the growth or decay of many businesses, technologies, or even industries. Many C-levels claim that the pandemic forced them to accelerate their digital journey by months, if not years.
Here are three major economic drivers of DA
- Remote work. During the pandemic, remote working became a new norm for many companies. More than 93% of businesses worldwide increased remote working or switched to WFH mode completely. Nearly 45% of them plan to keep part or all of their personnel on remote after returning to normal [1,4].
- Customer demand. Changing demand and a focus on online services is a new norm. Companies that have accepted this change and adapted their offerings have a greater chance to succeed.
- Tech innovation and digital disruption. New technology opens the door for new business opportunities. Nearly half of companies believe that the change in the adoption of advanced technologies (like AI or advanced analytics) will remain a part of DA.
So what technological advancements will power digital acceleration?
As mentioned above, technology is powering digital transformations, with some tech advancements being more potent and crucial than others.
Automation is an integral part of acceleration. It aims to help businesses reduce human involvement, make processes more efficient, and increase transparency. It can have multiple forms — from a simple reduction of paper documentation to complex robotic or intelligent automation solutions.
According to the IBM Institute of Business Value, cloud adoption has the highest return of digital investments (RODI) potential. It is a critical asset for agility, customer experience, and cybersecurity. It is also heavily involved in supply chain operations, IT resiliency, and operational activities. Despite the surge in technological investment, 59% of large companies plan to increase their cloud usage or adoption investment.
The global pandemic hit many companies hard in terms of security. IT teams had to work overtime to help businesses function in the work-from-home or hybrid modes while also staying ahead of new security threats. Almost 94% of companies say that they have started their Zero Trust journey, transforming their approach to security . Survey also shows that firms are investing heavily in security-related technology, including multi-factor authentication, endpoint device protection, and anti-phishing tools.
Advanced data analytics
Modern companies collect tons of data. However, nearly half of that data typically goes unused. The pandemic has forced companies to review the way they treat their data. There are four major types of data:
- Descriptive. It helps you understand what is happening with your business and whether processes are effective.
- Diagnostic. It allows you to find the root cause of the failures. It also helps you to isolate invalid or confusing data to analyze it separately.
- Predictive. It is used to understand the tendencies in demand and plan your activities accordingly.
- Prescriptive. It allows you to make specific recommendations to improve certain strategies or approaches.
Many businesses have increased their investment in AI, as well as their efforts in its scaling on the company-wide level. Study shows that nearly 60% of technologically advanced companies put AI at the core of their digital transformation efforts. However, it is only effective when your processes are digitized, automated, and connected to one source.
From predictive analytics to informed decision making - AI can have multiple applications within almost any unit of the company.
Forecasting and planning in the post-COVID times can be highly challenging. However, it is the new normal, and we need to adapt, as these times will be more digital, more fast-paced, and even more volatile. What are the typical problems companies face in the process?
According to the research , around 70% of all digital transformation projects fail. Another survey  shows that industry leaders faced similar problems at the beginning of the pandemic, and some of them are still struggling with digital acceleration. Among the top challenges companies have faced are difficulty in making tech decisions, inability to plan future operations, lack of skilled in-house personnel, as well as insufficient funding for transformation.
Also, around 10% of businesses reported having issues expanding experimental projects or solutions on a company-wide scale. So how do you secure your success in the digital journey?
We are living in a world that is both fast-changing and volatile. However, there’s a way to secure the success of your digital transformation and get the maximum value from it. Find one area for improvement and improve it. Here’s a step-by-step guide.
A thorough analysis of the situation is key. Gather as much information as possible to understand the current state, potential for growth, the depth of transformation needed, and expected outcomes. It will help you during the planning stage and show potential strategies.
Areas of assessment should include:
- Digital readiness. Similar to the Digital acceleration index, you should evaluate whether your company is ready for acceleration. How strong is the existing IT system? How skilled is the workforce? How digitally savvy are the processes in the company?
- Digital maturity. Assess the depth of knowledge of your employees. How tech-savvy is your company? What part of your infrastructure needs to change in the first place?
- Change readiness. Is the company ready for a change? If there’s a need to change the organizational structure and shift the focus of the company’s culture, how eager will the people be? Do you need to educate employees and stakeholders about change?
Be honest in this process, as it will help you define particular steps and increase your chances of success.
Create a project roadmap. Having a blueprint will help you set the proper goals, plan checkpoints, and understand whether everything is working out. Although the specific structure may vary, don’t forget to include:
- Team members. Planning and delegation are critical to the success of your mission. If you don’t have enough resources in-house, you might need to consider outsourcing.
- Overarching goals. To streamline digital adoption, set smart and achievable goals that will match the KPIs and contribute to the overall process.
- Measurable objectives. When people understand what needs to be done and how the success is measured, they are more likely to succeed.
- Timeline. Your timeline should include objectives, deadlines, a description of each stage and acceptance criteria, as well as other relevant details.
Once you have a plan in place, share it with stakeholders and involved parties to help them better understand their roles, dependencies, etc.
Implementation of the plan begins with a simple step. Start with a smaller project and team of believers. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Prepare employees for change. Educating people about the need for transformation will help you mitigate or at least minimize the resistance.
- Provide employees with the tools and skills needed. Ensure effective employee training so that they can actually be able to implement the project.
- Choose your rollout plan. Phased rollout allows you to test the project with a small group of people, team, or department. It’s easier to start and navigate. Rolling out the entire change might seem harder, but it ensures that the whole company transitions simultaneously and is on the same page.
Monitor and pivot
Sometimes things can fall out of place. The same thing happens with DA. Monitor the changes and adjust the scenario. Here are few things to help you with this process:
- Collect feedback. Every employee should be heard. Use employee surveys to gather insights and assess the pros and cons of the program.
- Analyze data. Keep an eye on your KPIs, monitor productivity metrics, and check with stakeholders about business results.
- Measure current performance against targets. Having clear and measurable objectives allows you to compare them to the metrics at hand and take action as needed.
Review and reinforce
Once the program is over, make sure to review the results, gather feedback, analyze metrics, and evaluate the outcome. Typically, reviews should:
- Check whether all objectives were met;
- Determine the effectiveness of the program and overall change;
- And collect lessons learned for future projects.
Overall, it would help if you learned to be agile, have a clear vision, and have the right team by your side. But what if you feel like your company doesn’t have enough expertise to handle digital acceleration?
Outsourcing is an option. Choose a reliable vendor. Focus on midsize and large vendors as they are more likely to have streamlined processes and internal resources to help you through every stage of digital acceleration. Look for companies with relevant industry expertise and case studies to prove their expertise.
How can N-iX help you accelerate your digital journey?
- N-iX has almost 20 years of experience, partnering with leading global companies such as Lebara, gogo, AVL, Currencycloud, Fluke, Seeking Alpha, OpenText, and many others. We have helped a dozen companies accelerate their digital journey and transform their operations.
- N-iX boasts an internal pool of over 2,000 experts.
- We partner with technology leaders across a variety of industries encompassing manufacturing, fintech, telecom, healthcare, retail, agritech, logistics and supply chain, etc., to help them effectively implement digital transformations.
- The company provides a wide array of services in different verticals such as cloud solutions, data science, big data analytics, BI, AI, enterprise mobility, embedded software, SAP and OpenText consulting, VR & AR, and much more.
- We offer professional DevOps services, including cloud adoption (infrastructure set up, migration, optimization), building and streamlining CI/CD processes, security issues detection/prevention (DDOS & intrusion), firewall-as-a-service, and more.
- N-iX is trusted in the global tech market: the company has been listed among the top software development providers by Clutch, in the Global Outsourcing 100 by IAOP for four consecutive years, recognized by GSA UK 2019 Awards, included in top software development companies by GoodFirms.co, and others.
- The company is a Select AWS Consulting Partner, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, a Google Cloud Partner.
- N-iX is compliant withISO 9001, ISO 27001, PCI DSS, and GDPR standards.
- Fluke Corporation is a US-based company that manufactures, distributes, and services electronic test tools and software for measuring and condition monitoring. We have helped the client improve asset maintenance by arming maintenance teams with critical asset information in real-time.
- Another client (under NDA) is a Global Fortune 100 multinational engineering and technology company from Germany. They needed to redevelop the legacy platform but needed additional expertise to make the platform more efficient and scalable. Our experts helped the client migrate to microservices architecture and worked on Computer vision and machine learning solutions for the platform.
- A leading automotive technology company (under NDA) engaged the N-iX team to participate in its digital transformation phase. This client wanted to automate their manual processes. As a part of their journey, they decided to digitize several processes with a cloud-based application.
- WEINMANN Emergency is a medical technology company that develops life-saving equipment. This client needed to speed up time-to-market for several of its products and make sure they comply with medical standards and regulations. We built a strong engineering team with deep expertise in embedded software development and experience in delivering healthcare software products. We helped WEINMANN Emergency release a new version of firmware that complies with the latest industry standards and implement a predictive maintenance system.
- Another client (under NDA) is a leading energy technology company. They needed a technology partner to develop an internal marketing system to meet the needs of their growing customer base better. Our experts created a PoC for one of the projects, worked on the MVP for another one, and joined forces with an in-house team to enhance the customer experience as well as helped to improve performance by an average of 20%.
- Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey 2020: Everything changed. Or did it?
- Gartner survey shows 42 percent of Ceos have begun digital business transformation. by Gartner
- Global contact center survey: Service Delivery transformation by Deloitte United States
- Digital acceleration. Report by IBM
- The leaders' path to digital value by BCG Global.
- New data from Microsoft shows how the pandemic is accelerating the digital transformation of cyber-security by Microsoft
- Digital acceleration by KPMG
- How COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point--and transformed business forever by McKinsey & Company
- 85+ digital Transformation stats by AIMultiple