I’m lucky to have so many conversations with business leaders from around the world and hear first-hand their challenges and to engage with them to clarify opportunities. As I was traveling home from a recent European visit – it hit me – there is a common thread every business team is challenged with – and that is forging a path to becoming a digital business.
What is a digital business?
Simply put, a digital business is one that wants to grow, attract top-notch talent, and make a difference for all of their stakeholders. Sounds like every business, right? The ‘secret sauce’ for a digital business – beyond merely digitally automating its processes – is defined accountability for initiatives and a clear understanding of the potential value that can be created. This cuts across all functional business areas from human resources, to manufacturing operations, to finance and marketing.
Why does it matter?
Digitization – the process of becoming a digital business – is a strategic initiative, one that will power growth, competitive position and customer brand preference. It will also enable innovation and speed to market. A recent McKinsey survey calls out several findings on this topic. These in particular resonate with me.
- The C-suite team has a direct and impactful role in setting the digital agenda
- Digital customer engagement is paramount – for strategy and spending
- Recognition of the potential value of ‘big data’ and the need for analytics talent to unlock value
How does a business adapt?
Take the first step – gather your leadership team and define the areas where the largest opportunities are. Is it operations, customer service or marketing? Cloud applications and infrastructure are important considerations in defining your digitization strategy. The cloud offers companies a fast-path to modern applications, mobility, user-friendly interfaces, and universal data access. Many software vendors, and consultants, would love the opportunity to work with your team on this exercise – my colleagues at Infor’s Value Engineering Team among them.
Cloud applications deliver bottom line advantages like hardware cost reduction thus opening the door for IT to focus on strategic initiative, and scalable server capacity so that you pay for what you use. But more important are the business transformation capabilities and resulting market impact from cloud adoption. Consider the ability you can have to simplify compliance through the automatic publishing of security and compliance updates across the enterprise, or to be ‘always-on’ for customers regardless of location anywhere in the world. And, the power to deliver a consumer-inspired user experience and enjoy the benefit of greater employee engagement and retention. Plus, with cloud adoption you’ll enjoy a more sophisticated level of protection than you may have on your own, and the ability to scale a security framework to meet business needs.
Look at the data
While many companies expect growth to be driven by digitization, the ‘where to go, what to do next’ answers are found in the mountains of data generated. Data-driven decision making is not new, but what is new is the understanding that deeper, meaningful insights can be tapped earlier in development cycles. Predictive analytics has the power to make your data ‘smarter.’ This results in improved brand credibility -- customers see immediately that you have just what they need -- and ultimately improves market share and revenue.
With these challenges in mind, software vendors are launching new, innovative business intelligence applications designed to help companies unleash the full potential of their data. BI and analytics tools, which used to be quite complex, are now becoming increasingly user friendly. Modern screens showcase information that is easy to consume by employees throughout the organization. For more insights about Infor’s view of predictive analytics, take a look at the use cases from Infor Dynamic Science Labs.
Many companies leverage the digitization agenda to integrate existing business applications into one cloud-based BI platform. By having a unified solution, data can be compiled from multiple sources and offer a richer, more meaningful business insights.
A new business mantra
Make 2015 the year your company is ‘all-in’ with becoming a digital business. Define the goals, the potential value, and engage the management team to make this a reality and then watch the benefits accrue over the years to come.
Watch the video below to hear from Infor customers, such as City of Greensboro and others, who’ve embraced the digital business challenge and are on their way to an exciting 2015.
Image credits: Roadsign © asrawolf - Fotolia.com; Stephan Scholl pictures by Infor.