The relevance of digitalisation is unquestionable across most industries, be that retail, healthcare or manufacturing. Digital technologies and the process of digitalisation has caused major disruptions: changing procedures, creating new markets and wiping out old systems. For example, the proliferation of online publications and resources has transformed journalism and the media landscape. Similarly, no one can ignore the impact mobile apps such as Uber or Airbnb have had, completely revolutionising the transport, car, hotel and travel industries.
The list of digital technologies creating change goes on. What’s clear, is that businesses taking an innovative approach to digitalisation have experienced great benefits. Indeed, it is no surprise that by the end of 2018, businesses are estimated to spend nearly $1.3 trillion on digital transformation technologies, according to IDC’s forecast. Clearly, industry leaders recognise the importance of ‘going digital’ and are eager to reap the rewards of their efforts. However, there remains one major misconception, digitalisation is not simply adopting technology. Rather, to successfully carry out digitalisation, businesses must understand their business model and recognise its purpose and its end user to experience the benefits in full.
The different meanings of digitalisation
Digitalisation itself is a contested term, in that it is often used to refer to different things. For some, digitalisation simply refers to the adoption of new technologies, while for others, it represents a new way of doing business. What’s clear, is that digitalisation is a process, which is multifaceted and occurs differently for each business. This process can be broken down into categories, which include: utilising technology to unlock value in emerging sectors, for example Amazon introducing its video and TV platform; building digital capabilities to evolve and respond to needs, this could be through using data analytics from sensors, and using digital technologies to maintain value in your business, through improving the customer experience.
There is no doubt that digitalisation represents change, and for this process to be successful and transform your business for the better, executives need to understand their own business culture and question how technology is going to be used to improve day-to-day life and overall objectives. Only when this occurs, will they reap the full rewards of new technology. Therefore when discussing digital transformation, it’s important to think beyond the technicalities and recognise the end benefits.
The importance of benefiting the end user
The retail industry is a good example of digital transformation misconceptions. Mobility and online resources are frequently blamed for the so called ‘death of the high street’. Yet, the digitalisation of the instore experience is leading to growth, and potentially its rebirth. Incorporating mobile solutions instore is paving the way for a seamless shopping experience, which is exactly what customers are looking for. What’s more, the data collected from mobile applications provide consumer insights that can be used to change and improve the instore experience.
When adopting mobile solutions in the retail sector, or any other for that matter, having a solid understanding of your customer or end user will enable you to develop the best mobile application. Deliver an app that your customer needs and enjoys using will lead to increased shopping baskets, an improved customer experience and better customer loyalty.
Mobility solutions are infiltrating the instore experience, and when incorporated in the right way, through understanding the customer, stores are benefitting. The Ubamarket app, adopted by Budgens stores, highlights how mobile technologies can successfully change the instore experience. Simply designed with only three buttons, the app allows users to build a shopping list, which is then used to direct customers around the store according to the position of items on their list. It also enables users to scan items and pay via the app.
These features remove shopper’s top grievances, eliminating the need to queue and get lost in the store looking for the last item on their list. What’s more, the app has evolved over time, adding new features in response to customer feedback, recognising the end user’s needs. After its launch, the app incorporated loyalty features, enabling shoppers to automatically collect loyalty points when paying through the app. This removed the need for loyalty cards that are so frequently forgotten. This example highlights the importance of knowing your customer and engaging with them constantly to know what they want and how this changes over time. Digitalisation is an ongoing process that should be adapted over time, incorporating market changes and new insights from consumer behaviour is essential for success.
Building a work culture is essential
What should be clear by now, is that when it comes to digital transformation, simply implementing new technology does not automatically lead to great results. What’s necessary beyond understanding the end user is to create a work culture that embraces digitalisation. Too often, the main barrier to digital transformation lies within old legacy systems that board members and top executives are reluctant to change. To successfully undergo the process of digital transformation, companies need to create a “digital first” work culture. Companies cannot solely rely on technology for results, rather it is essential that employees embrace technology and work alongside it. When this occurs, employees can respond to data from technology and use it to inform decisions based on changing market needs. Technology and digital transformation also has the ability to release certain employee’ burdens, such as admin tasks and training, allowing businesses to redistribute resources for the better.
To thrive in the era of digitalisation, organisations must get under the skin of their end user to understand what makes them tick - whether it’s consumers or employees. This will enable them to deliver mobility solutions that fit their end users’ needs and have an impact on their everyday lives. Developing a digital first work culture will also enable them to develop processes and methodologies that serve, build loyalty, and create meaningful experiences for their end user.
Michael Eriksson, President of DMI International
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