A historic metamorphosis is underway in the world of business. Digital transformation has become the catchphrase used most often to describe this pervasive shift, the term hinting at how nearly all business processes today are becoming data- and software-driven. But more specifically, from a business perspective, what does digital transformation entail, and what are its benefits?
What Does Digital Transformation Look Like for Businesses?
To understand what digital transformation means in a business context, begin by observing the ways that organizations are now collecting data and storing that data in a single, central location. For example, both customers and employees can now interact with a business through many types of devices, and the data generated by those interactions is typically captured and stored in a central cloud. Internet of Things (IoT) devices also collect data at the periphery, sending status updates to be recorded by monitoring applications. Evidence of the digital transformation of business processes can also be seen after all this data is collected, with artificial intelligence now able to interpret the data, providing insights for decision makers, making predictions, and automating processes based on its findings.
Beyond the flow of big data, digital transformation also refers to new types of application-aware communications and business tasks. Internally within an organization, digital transformation is seen in the new ways that teams can collaborate on computing devices in real time through voice, text, screen sharing, whiteboarding, and video, even across great distances. Applications also enable these and other tasks, communications, and processes to be standardized and recorded centrally through software. Even IT hardware and application-development processes are being digitally transformed, with network functions and applications virtualized and migrated as needed in cloud-based data centers, freed from former ties to particular servers or even geographical locations.
Digital-Native Businesses See Huge Advantages
For those who have been slow to adopt these massive changes, digital transformation might seem like an existential threat, the sound of a battering ram from outside the gates. Consultants in business media, journals, and conferences have even been issuing stern warnings to all organizations that they must embrace this process of digital transformation or risk being left behind.
But what is the flipside of that warning? What are the compelling benefits that digital transformation offers businesses, in concrete terms? Here are just a few of many:
- Improved operational efficiency. Instantaneous, application-aware communication among all business components is a key aspect of digital transformation, and this advantage can help significantly lower the cost of doing business. Companies that buy and sell physical goods, for example, can now enjoy real-time updates across their entire supply chains, from suppliers, to factory floors, to distributors, and finally to customers. This improved responsiveness can lead to leaner inventories, quicker deliveries, and faster decision-making.
IoT devices point to another way in which digital transformation can lower operational costs. Remotely installed sensors on equipment such as tires or windmills can provide status updates to centralized monitoring applications about the equipment’s health. Weaknesses detected can instantly trigger requests for service or replacement to be sent to the right people within the organization, allowing companies to solve equipment problems when they are small and before they grow into much more costly disruptions.
- Improved customer experience. By capturing real-time data about customer behavior into analytics engines, businesses can learn how to reach more customers, learn their likes and dislikes more quickly, respond to their queries more adeptly, and anticipate their needs in advance.
- Better decision making. Collected data can be mined for insights that lead to smarter ways to target customers, use business resources more efficiently, and prevent problems before they occur. Also, better communication among employees through new tools can help quickly spread vital information about practices that work well and those that don’t.
- Increased innovation. Giving employees the tools they need to share knowledge and ideas more easily, and to stay more engaged, can lead to more collaboration and actionable breakthroughs.
Embracing the Speed of Modern Business Here at Prowess
At Prowess, we know a lot about digital transformation because we truly are a digitally native company, living and breathing the new way of doing business every single day. Our team members collaborate easily over distances in real time, abstracting away geography. Our business tasks and processes are fully digitized and application-aware, with information such as completion status immediately communicated to team members and always visible in the cloud. Our line-of-business applications continually generate insights from this data and keep helping us improve the way we help our clients. It’s our job to remain on the cutting edge and to put our expertise about technology trends to work in all that we do.