Despite the tomes that have already been written on “Digital”, in reality, the engine is just about revving up. This is a reflection of what the future holds for mankind – fathomless opportunities. While continuing with our digital transformational journey in 2017, the over-arching theme was “re-imagine and not simply re-engineer”.
With another year passing, the focus has now shifted to . Simply put, digitization has pervaded the heart of all businesses and not merely restricted to customer facing functions & processes.
This is best examined through specific lenses. The likely areas where this impact will be felt, including the factors that will catalyze change of massive proportions.
Massive shifts on many fronts have had far-reaching impacts. Pivoted on data – the value of which is increasingly being likened to oil – decision-making is becoming wholly scientific where chance / gut-feel will soon become a thing of the past. Sensors, literally in millions, have aided this process through copious amounts of data capture. Infinitely expandable as this idea seems to be, it has been made possible because of a swathe of advanced technologies – SMAC, IoT, AI, VR, Blockchain etc. – which have invaded our lives and at times, even without our active consent. Yet, these are only the early moorings of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Undeniably there’s a rising wave of protectionism across the world which is disruptive too, and attempting to stymie globalization, even threatening to reverse it, if it goes unchecked. Interestingly, non-traditional markets (especially Africa, ME, SE Asia etc.) are opening doors for new opportunities. So be it the headwinds of geo-politics or the wave of new technologies, one thing is pretty much clear – when we brace for impact, expect that it will come from many fronts and concurrently.
The reach of digital has now gone way beyond the realms of enhanced customer experience and front-end functions. Digitization is now embedded in core business functions as well.
Galvanized by the need for speed, accuracy, faster go-to-market and to enhance competitiveness, digital has enabled seamless fusion of the two worlds – physical & virtual. In turn, vertical disaggregation has created market niches and companies are roughing it out to capture specific parts of the value chain to establish territorial supremacy, but of a different kind.
To achieve this, expertise – which may not be readily available – will have to be leveraged. While scouting for specialized talent, companies will have to simultaneously re-skill their employees and explore partnerships as an alternative. Moreover, this is a continual process and will have to be sustained.
A siloed approach – both for individuals and organizations – will be the death-knell.
Obviously, traditional org structures aren’t ideally suited to address this kind of agility. The need for “digitally immersed CEOs” is now more pronounced than ever before. The ones who will lead with clarity and conviction. Not for them to be seen as “me-too” adopters but have genuine belief in digital transformation firmly backed up by strategy. Such structures that will enable quick decision-making and implementation.
Realistically, the pace of digital adoption will not be uniform. Digital Attackers will require org structures which will be different from those of Followers and Laggards. Even then, in “two-speed” organizations, a fine balance will have to be maintained at all times – talent hire, appropriate deployment, re-skilling & retention.
Not least among them being the constant overhang of cybersecurity threats, data privacy issues, policies that will have to be re-written for a heavily automated business environment with compliances firmly in place. There will be reluctance, because the price of doing all this will be high. But make no mistake: the price of and irreversible.
Finally, it’s about the spirit of collaboration and leveraging the exponential power of networks. We’ve heard these before: boundary-less businesses, open innovation, moonshots and shared economy. We have already entered into an age which has no precedence and at best some worthy used cases which will have to be shared at all times as part of overall learning – which is what the conclave is all about.