How digital transformation is rewriting business rules

Digital Transformation is fast becoming the biggest business and technology buzzword for 2016, and with good reason. Disruptive technology is re-writing the rule book when it comes to business operations and customer expectations.

Where once iconic brands stood tall, technology has re-written the rule book and disrupted their industry in a way many simply cannot cope with. We’re in the midst of the next industrial revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another. This shift will transform the way every business in every industry operates.

Dell Technologies commissioned research to highlight how businesses are faring amidst this change, and what they need to do in order to keep pace in this new digital world.

What does a digital business look like?

According to our research of 4,000 mid-to-enterprise businesses around the world, respondents say a best-in-class digital business has transformation ingrained in its DNA. 

A digital business means that it uses digital technologies to accelerate new products and/or services development. This means they can securely launch new applications in days rather than months, fostering more agile innovation. Digital goals are also integrated into all department/staff objectives. By acting on intelligence in real time, they can stay one step ahead of the competition.

What does the research say about the threat of disruption and competition from digital start-ups?

More than half of respondents have experienced significant disruption to their industries as a result of digital technologies. In the UK specifically, almost two thirds (65 percent) of UK businesses believe digital start-ups will pose a threat to their organisation, either now or in the future.

As a result, businesses are fearful. Nearly one in two businesses believe there is a possibility that their company will become obsolete within the next three to five years (well over a quarter (32 percent) fear this in the UK). In fact, 52 percent of the Fortune 500 have merged, acquired, gone bankrupt or fallen off the list since 2000.

How are businesses responding to the threat of disruption? 

Organisations are already in good stead on their digital transformation journey. In fact, 46 percent are shaping their digital transformation agenda in response to competition from their peers. 

An additional 56 percent say that their customers’ digital demands are driving their agenda. Within businesses, the most influential voices to transform digitally are in the C-Suite (41 percent) and within lines of business (39 percent).

In the quest to becoming a digital business, how are businesses progressing?  

Companies are making headway, but they still have a long way to go. According to our respondents, 73 percent admit that digital transformation could be more widespread throughout their organisation. 

According to our research, it shows that the healthcare and insurance industries are trailing behind, whereas the telecoms and media & entertainment industries are paving the way.

Despite being considered a newly industrialised country, the Indian economy is already the 7th largest in the world by GDP – and is therefore leading the way in digital transformation. 

Infancy aside, more than half (55 percent) report their organisation is already predictively spotting new opportunities well organisation-wide due to their digital adoption. Unlike developed nations, Indian organisations are less likely to be plagued by legacy technology.

In terms of where the UK sits in comparison with other countries, the majority (65 percent) of UK businesses admit digital transformation could be more widespread throughout their organisation. 

Around six in ten companies are unable to meet customers’ top demands, such as better security and 24/7 faster access to services and information. Almost three quarters (69 percent) confess to not acting on intelligence in real-time.

What are companies doing to transform into a digital business?

To enable complete digital business, companies need to undergo a holistic IT, workforce and security transformation.

For a product company, digital transformation means embedding software to make products smart, connected, and more collaborative. Through our findings, we learned that 72 percent are already expanding their software capabilities. 

Here in the UK, businesses are also starting to advance their digital transformation journey with 61 percent agreeing they need to prioritise a centralised technology strategy for their business and 62 percent already expanding their software development capabilities.

For service companies, they must take services online, direct to customers, through consumer-grade mobile apps.

Where is Dell Technologies in its own digital transformation journey?

At Dell EMC, we’ve continued to invest in a solid, modernised infrastructure and applications. We’ve enabled our salesforce to best serve customers with “social selling” apps that allow real-time chat with customers at the point of purchase. 

We’re also helping our customers understand their customers better with social services. For example, Boomi cloud integration automates customer facing processes like ERP, CRM, HR and other systems to speed processes and eliminate the need for custom coding. 

We have also extended live events globally through online “virtual event” access and experiences, such as Dell EMC World, to expand conversations and involve customers regardless of their location. By educating and connecting with our partners, through a mobile app, this helps to deliver information at their fingertips, enabling a better partner/customer experience and engagement.

While we have been on our own digital transformation journey – the important thing is that we are also helping our customers do this and can offer them advice from first-hand experience. 

A digital transformation invariably leads to an IT transformation in the data centre, and this is where Dell EMC can help other businesses. The requirements now driven by digital – 1000x more data created by 1000x more users – will break traditional IT infrastructure. 

IT must adopt a hybrid cloud strategy and base it on modern data centre technology, automate and act as a service provider in-house and brokering additional services from external providers.

What are the biggest barriers to digital transformation?

Whether you’re a product or a service company, new software is required to make your product smart, or to take your service online. The challenge for many companies is that they haven’t written a line of code in 20 years. These companies are under pressure to not just re-think their businesses, but to re-architect their IT. That can be daunting when tackling it alone.

What’s the purpose of the Digital Business benchmark, and how will the benchmark adapt in-line with the industry?

The Digital Business Benchmark enables businesses to see where companies are on their journey, how they stack up against their peers, and what needs to be done in order to become a true digital leader. It is designed to help businesses visualise and understand what they can do next to evolve digitally. The value of a benchmark is that it’s context-aware. It recognises that the bar on digital maturity is constantly moving.

By Rob Lamb, Cloud Business Director, Dell EMC

Image source: Shutterstock/Ditty_about_summer