2016 was the year of digital transformation

Throughout 2016 the most significant focus for many businesses was on the ‘digital transformation’ of business models and processes. No matter what sector organisations work in, businesses have had no choice but to acknowledge and respond to the opportunities – and threats – that digital capabilities offer them in an increasingly competitive environment.  This notion of the ‘uberisation’ of existing markets – whereby a digital disruptor enters a market and rejigs the status quo as Uber has managed to do in the global taxi and transport space – has had a big role to play in 2016. This has intensified the focus on the issue of digital transformation for businesses – not just to compete and survive but to thrive and grow. 

Ultimately, the drive behind any digital transformation programme is the customer. Customers from all walks of life are increasingly migrating to digital channels and processes, meaning businesses need to evolve quickly to keep up with this demand. Indeed, in 2016 we saw a rise in the need for personalisation and for organisations to tailor services to customers, as well as for businesses to operate in an ‘anywhere anytime’ system. Only via digital advances has this personalisation become possible. 

One of the benefits of the digitisation, and automation, of corporate information is that businesses can create true efficiency in organisational processes which can help prevent future crises and create a real competitive advantage. Unsurprisingly, Gartner recently predicted that a lack of digital business competence will cause 25 per cent of businesses to lose competitive ranking by 2017.

The role of challenger banks

Challenger banks, for instance, have played a big role in driving the need for digitisation in financial services in 2016. Being predominantly digital, challenger banks have been able to provide a personalised and efficient service highlighting the benefits of digitisation. The simplicity, due to the straight-through processing and speed, of their IT systems means efficiency and performance is maximised and an online portal allows the ease of both access to data and the movement of data.  

In a similar way, mobile apps have been one way for banks old and new– and other businesses –to increase mobility, improve efficiency and attract a wider customer base. Recent research commissioned by EDM Group found that over half (51 per cent) of the so called ‘millennials’ generation would consider taking out a mortgage with one of the new challenger banks. 

In addition, with three in four (72 per cent) millennials expecting to take out a mortgage or re-mortgage in next five years, more than two in five (41 per cent) said they would be willing to use an app to buy a mortgage if one were to exist. And three in five (61 per cent) of all millennials said it would be desirable if their mortgage lender were to provide an app.   

  The rise of ‘digital’

The rise of ‘digital’ and the need for businesses to digitally transform their business models has meant a commensurate increase in how businesses manage information and data – including how they manage paper-based documents such as customer post and how they integrate this with other channels such as email. 

Throughout 2016, businesses from a variety of sectors integrated digital mailrooms with their internal processes to ensure that inbound and outbound communication – regardless of its source – is handled appropriately and competently, before being uploaded to a document hosting solution. An overarching need for greater accuracy in data application and data storage as well as market regulation have been two key drivers of the increased focus on digitisation. 

One of the main catalysts here, for instance, has been the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The UK’s current data protection legislation, The Data Protection Act 1998, is nearly 20 years old and significantly outdated when compared with technology used today. 

Subsequently, 2016 saw the passing of the GDPR.  The impact of the GDPR means that for UK businesses, data protection will need to be strengthened significantly and, despite Brexit, organisations trading or communicating with businesses in the European Union must comply with the reformed regulation by 2018. 

Nearly all businesses in the UK will be affected; as such, we have seen the rise in digital mailrooms and the need for a digital ‘storage box’ to ensure businesses know exactly what data they hold and where it is kept.  Overall, digital transformation has been the highlight across all business sectors in 2016 and we believe this will continue into 2017. 

Remaining competitive with new era digital companies has been a key driver with UK consumers now demanding more efficient and personalised services. With technology rapidly evolving and the consumer being more aware of what businesses can offer, 2016 has set an exciting stage for 2017.

Image source: Shutterstock/Wichy
EDM Group