One approach to growing a business sustainably, could be to cast an eye on emerging digital and technology trends and identifying how these could be leveraged to transform a business, as well as make it more efficient, creative and commercially successful.
London, UK — Whilst it cannot be denied that exploiting emerging digital technologies could lead to a wealth of benefits for business, what is most often ignored, comments Annemie Ress, founder at PurpleBeach, is that this can be a challenging process to master. She says, ‘The approach to mastering these technologies rarely receives sufficient attention our hypothesis however is that mastering the approach to making digital transformation happen, is as important (if not more) as is finding the right technology trends to exploit.’
She elaborates that digital transformation often drives entire business transformation and therefore requires a secure foundation to support and make such a transformation happen successfully. One cannot run to the newest, shiniest technologies and digital trends in the hope of harnessing them without first properly ensuring one’s business is ready, and able, to not only receive these new technologies, but to also successfully integrate them so as to reap their full benefits going forward.
When approaching digital transformation, PurpleBeach have found that there are a number of effective lenses through which to view your business – these can be categorized as:
- Business Model Focused.
The first lens here – ‘Outward-Facing’ – refers to every part of the business that the customers see. The second lens however the ‘Interal-Facing’ lens – is by far the most popular starting point that companies want to begin with. This lens refers to internal processes, and companies frequently want to start here because they think streamlining their internal processes and reporting will lead to quick wins as they relate to the introduction of the latest technologies and trends.
Unfortunately, this is a common trap that companies can fall into when approaching their approach to new technologies and trends – viewing digital transformation in reductionist terms, and wanting to enact it sequentially. Companies often think: first we should fix the internal and basics; then maybe we attend to fixing our business models through the introduction of more advanced technologies. Thisfails to fully and at speed, embrace the great opportunities that a holistic approach and modern tools like open architecture can bring. Annemie often talks about changing the engine of the plane whilst it is flying. In the past you couldn’t’t do it – but now, with open architecture and open capabilities that are easily integrated, it is possible to adapt your approach to new technologies whilst simultaneously working on outward topics such as working on new customer experiences topics, business models, and products.
When it comes to outward-facing trends, there are a cluster of exceptionally powerful full-life-cycle CRM systems – from initial marketing touch-points to the sales journey, account management processes, process support and help end-to-end customer support services – that are now available. An example aretools that drive convergence from two directions – customer CRM-type-system sales and marketing. These now connect very easily with enterprise systems and accounting systems. So effectively enterprise and accounting systems morphing into CRM and sales and marketing systems.
The most significant obstacle to improving internal efficiency concerns ‘islands’ of people who are resistant to change. These people are accustomed to doing things a certain way, and question the need to change. The solution here is communication. Individual pieces within the organism are never content with digital transformation unless they are able to see how such change a) fits into the bigger picture, and b) benefits them. The mistake often made – when introducing change at an intra-cellular (inter-company) level – is a failure to clearly communicate why a change or process of transformation is necessary to those who will be affected. For example, a purchase ledger team may not automatically see the need for change unless, or before, they are made fully aware of the bigger picture and benefits.
Another important opportunity to grasp when it comes to enacting digital transformation is to ease the common fears that can be summoned in people by transformative processes – such as a general fear of change, a fear of job loss or failure. Fears can also arise surrounding the digital transformation of business models, such as a fear of rendering old business models redundant, or of cannibalizing one’s own existing product or customer value – in such a context it is all the more vital to let available expertise (on developing and implementing new business models) guide the way.
Business Model and Product Development
B2B is now merging with B2C.In light of this, B2B customers are now expecting the same experience from their B2B partners as they would in their private lives as B2C consumers or customers. Therefore, a necessary mindset shift is to think of low volume; high valuecustomers as needing the same experience as high volume; low valuecustomers.
Whilst sales teams still need to know how to do highly bespoke sales and human interactions where needed, digital processes where these are not needed allow for market expansions and opens B2B opportunities to increase volumes by selling more commoditized versions faster, bigger, better.
B2C businesses can actually now even offer a small leap, in that they converge into B2B businesses who can now sell – not only to the B2C market but to the B2B market. This allows people with a solid consumer product basis to start developing products that are less commoditized and higher in value – thereby improving the highly commoditized appeal to the opposite effect and reducing complexity.
The single most important attribute for remodeling one’s business for a digital future is to reduce friction across the entire business. In practice, this looks like adopting a holistic view of the organization as an organism – viewing the organisation as a whole so as not to overlook departments or teams and to see all sectors as able to contribute to the digital transformation process. In upholding this view, one also works to reduce the occurrence and isolating effect of ‘islands’ of people within the business.