Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Digital boost to the Business: A practical approach

Business are looking at Digital as a mean to drive revenues, efficiencies and competitive advantage. 'Digital' could mean different things for different people. For some, its about digitisation and mobile devices. For others its Cloud, IoT and Data Analytics. Digital is not IT. The discussion on Digital is often skewed towards a narrow set to technologies. Instead, the starting point should be the business and then comes the technologies that can be leveraged.

A straightforward approach would be to divide the business into following areas and then frame the digital initiatives:

Customer Offerings: Digital can be a game changer in terms of how a business designs its offerings and serves its customers. 
An entire new line of product based services can be enabled by digital initiatives. There are examples of a water purifier company selling pure water remotely. Consumers can buy the pure water just like a prepaid talktime on mobile.   
Sensors, Digital Material Technology (MIT) and others can improve the physical products itself. 
Various digital technology enablers include Big Data, IoT, Analytics, Augmented Reality, UAVs, Digital Materials and so on...

Processes: Digital innovations can improve effectiveness of processes like design, supply chain, production, maintenance, financial, marketing, HR and administrative.  
Production can benefit from IoT, 3D printing, AR, Wearables, and Robotics based solutions.
Supply chain can benefit from Tracking and Analytics solutions.
Fintech is an emerging area. Serious Gaming, AR, VR and Virtual Simulation technologies can benefit training and design processes. Marketing can benefit from social media analytics, mobility and animation technologies.

Decision Making: Digital can help make decision making at all levels of management more objective and data driven. 
Data visualisation and analytics is a common thrust area. Social media technologies help management keep an ear to ground and also communicate better.

Infrastructure: Digitalising the infrastructure allows the company to get more out of its fixed investments, be it buildings, equipment or IT. 
Smart buildings save money. Digital solutions enable predictive maintenance which can improve equipment productivity. IT infrastructure can expand its horizons to data lakes, remote sharing and connectivity, contextual search, mobility to give the digital edge to organisational working.

Digital initiatives in above areas can be at both departmental level and corporate level. Coherence and synergies between them can be ensured by transparency and open interaction across departments. A core central team can also help coordinate and facilitate such initiatives.

Lastly, there is a behavioural aspect to this topic. There is no ready template for digital business or digital initiatives that a business can simply adopt and implement. Its innovation driven and an intrapreneur skillsets are required to conceive and implement digital initiatives in an organisation.

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