- Oct 1, 2018,
While no longer a brand new buzzword, “Digital Transformation” has now become a pervasive and overarching initiative among established enterprises in all industries. And it makes perfect sense; since 2000, 52% of the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired, or merged with another company. That statistic should give executives pause and put the fear of disruption in everything that they do.
The challenge is that Digital Transformation is as hard a term to measure as it is to define. What marks the completion of a Digital Transformation project? How will a company know when it has been transformed? There are also the ambiguous definitions which all hang loosely around the concept of using digital technologies to create new products or services, and to transform (modernize) existing business models and processes.
That begs the question – is Digital Transformation truly possible? According to IDC, business leaders cited the #1 challenge to Digital Transformation efforts as “legacy systems that won’t support the new processes and models involved in innovation”. Theses applications weren’t built to support the pace of today’s business, the new computing platforms – smartphones and tablets – and I’d argue they weren’t even built to support humans! (let’s not even get started with the millennial issue).
In most enterprises, nothing ever really goes away, things are just layered on top or duct taped to the sides. This creates a complex mess of spaghetti under the hood that can’t be easily untangled, yet this is what runs the business and contains all of the critical data. Simplifying this complexity and shifting the focus to the end user is crucial to even beginning the digital transformation journey, but is no easy task. No wonder why most companies’ runway for this initiative is many years long.
Why is mobile such an important piece of the puzzle? I’ll give you a hint – it’s not about the device. What “mobile” brings to the table is a complete shift in how processes are done and how users access information. Enterprise mobility is synonymous with simplification. Tasks and operations are broken down into simple, bite-sized tasks that can be completed anytime, anywhere, without training or documentation. In addition, these apps or micro apps are not one-size-fits-all like their “parents” – your current desktop applications. These applications are the systems of record containing thousands of processes, yet each individual or team accesses only a handful of them. What mobile allows you to do is to not only decouple a workflow from a desk and office, but also decouple a workflow from the underlying application. That means organizations don’t have to spend years untangling the spaghetti and re-writing applications (or paying a pretty penny to vendors for the latest and greatest upgrades), but can instead focus on enabling their employees, partners, contractors, and customers, and on shifting their business models to address the changing markets. In business, speed is critical and anything that allows organizations to run quickly will be a competitive advantage.
Let’s look at a real world example. Schroders is a 213 year old asset management company that needed to transform the core processes of the business to stay relevant. Graham Kellen, their Chief Digital Officer (a position they created to shift focus towards digital) intimately understands the challenges of driving Digital Transformation services while relying on legacy systems. He made it clear that Schroders cannot be restricted by outdated technology. As the financial sector is being disrupted in numerous ways, Schroders sees mobility as the way to gain a competitive edge in the asset management sector. Everyone has a smartphone with them at all times and if they can enable their people to complete tasks in 1-2 minutes on those devices, they can dramatically speed up business processes, provide a better customer experience, and maximize productivity. Mobility is allowing Schroders to leverage their existing investment in technology, yet transform the way that their employees work, and the way that they do business.
Digital Transformation is no easy challenge to tackle, yet is critical to the survival of mature companies. Mobility can be the secret weapon that gives enterprises a competitive advantage and allows them to transform their businesses into agile, modern, and mobile entities.