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How to simplify, collaborate, and focus to enable endless digital business opportunities

digital business
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/ESB Professional)

It is no secret that enabling digital business offers new opportunities for growing revenue and achieving business goals. But for many companies, it’s a struggle to pivot from their complex business and technology environments toward a true agile digital business model.

The top-performing enterprises right now are prioritizing digital innovation, according to a recent Gartner survey of 2,000 CIOs, and they’re effectively (and quickly) leveraging technology to gain a competitive edge as we emerge from the pandemic.

A McKinsey survey of 800 executives last summer found that 85 percent of companies had accelerated digitalization and 67 percent had accelerated automation and AI. There are headlines every day noting innovations involving digital business among the world’s biggest brands: Chipotle introducing robotic delivery, Brazil’s largest telecom going cloud-native, or Sapiens and EchoHealth partnering on digital payment processing.

The race is on.

Many companies are watching and wondering how they can catch up. They don’t want the disruptions to their business that many assume are a rite of passage to digitalization. Sometimes they don’t know where to start. 

But by making a few strategic changes to their approach, they can access the real magic of digital business enablement -- an endless supply of new business opportunities. It’s no longer just a technology issue. It’s all about adherence to simplification, collaboration, and process consistency.

Data drives business insights and simplification  

One reason digital business is so hard for many organizations to achieve is that their business and technology are inherently inefficient and inflexible. 

This is because many organizations have little visibility into their operations, their products, and their customers. If you can’t tell which processes are working and which ones aren’t, you’re going to struggle to create new digital products or services for growth.

The key to overcoming a lack of visibility is creating a single source of truth across every business function of the organization, enabling better planning and proactiveness, deeper business intelligence, and new business models based on insights gleaned from customer needs. 

That kind of simplification can help you prioritize initiatives by gauging their impact on company growth, then dedicate specific teams to implementing solutions. But simplification alone isn’t enough.

Small steps with emphasis on collaboration yield big leaps 

A common trap for companies is assuming digital business requires major changes or an uncomfortable, long process. 

It’s important to avoid this kind of big bang mindset. Companies that succeed in launching new digital business focus on small, incremental steps and proven results to build momentum and create an environment where business and technology teams are committed and aligned on an approach to address specific business needs. 

With small steps, you can emphasize collaboration and take an end-to-end approach to achieve business outcomes. The CEO and senior leaders play a pivotal role in communicating and instilling a culture of collaboration across the organization.

We can already see the traditional corporate walls coming down and that shift in collaboration taking shape. In the 2021 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey, 70 percent of CIOs said they have assumed leadership of high-impact initiatives and that business leaders are simultaneously assuming more accountability for IT projects. Another 70 percent of CIOs deepened their knowledge of specific business processes to advise the business, and the same proportion did more to measure and articulate the value of IT.

Tie together your single source of truth, collaboration, and assets in the cloud

A productive engineering environment where business and technology can collaborate with a product approach is essential to any digital business effort. 

Storing and sharing these assets in the cloud can shepherd this collaboration by leveraging the current technology assets, including platforms, to bring consistent engineering of products across the enterprise at scale. 

It allows you to institutionalize product development at scale with speed. Business and technology can better collaborate and iterate based on data from various sources for effective decision making and predictive analysis without disrupting current business operations. 

From better decisions come more mature digital business capabilities. A simple, cloud-based business digital platform (BDP) simplifies operations and workflows, promotes experimentation and collaboration, and serves as a single source of truth when developing products. This truth is drawn from BDP’s engagement with both external customers through omni-channel experiences and internal customers through a simplified and integrated workflow.

This agile end-to-end engineering environment makes engineers more productive and efficient, as they work faster, reusing components and services, which results in faster product launches while safeguarding security, and compliance.

Large enterprises face different challenges than SMBs 

Historically, it has been large enterprises most likely to fall prey to a lack of collaboration between business and technology. Mid-size companies are more challenged by where to start and how to address several pain points affecting the current business as well as not having clear visibility into day-to-day challenges. There’s also a perception that digital business implementation is very expensive, lengthy, and disruptive to the existing business. SMBs need laser focus to bring outcomes at speed, without requiring a large investment or disrupting current business. 

Focus on the current business pain points and solve them by simplifying and collaborating through engineering teams. Emphasize digitalization and creating a single source of truth across each business function and eventually across all business functions. 

This will bring together teams in a culture of collaboration and problem solving together without the worry of attracting additional talent. It also avoids a high upfront investment in technology. The key focus is to solve current pain points and create new opportunities for growth with speed. 

The potential is incredible right now to create new business models and seize new opportunities. Digital business is not the result of a singular technology or overarching trend. Rather, as outlined above, it is brought to life by a simplified, collaborative process with relentless curiosity and drive to answer the question “What are we solving for?” Only then will digitization bear fruit for employees and customers alike.

Raj Vattikuti, Executive Chairman, Altimetrik

Raj Vattikuti is Executive Chairman of digital business enablement company, Altimetrik. He is a philanthropist and successful entrepreneur who founded a string of successful enterprises, Covansys, Synova, Vattikuti Ventures, Vattikuti Technologies, and Davinta Technologies.