Trends in Corporate Digitization – 2018

Digital disruptors are transforming how consumers engage in the sharing economy and use digital wallets to exchange crypto currencies. Digitally savvy consumers are expecting businesses to also engage with them in the social platforms of their choosing.

Digitization has moved beyond a buzzword and business and tech executives continue to drive digital transformations for increased automation, user-self-service, and better customer engagement.

Dr. Sally Ride, Mission Specialist, on the flight deck of the space shuttle Challenger (NASA Orbital Vehicle 099) during her first mission, STS-7, when she became the first American woman in space as well as the youngest astronaut to orbit--a record that she still holds.

Image credit:Bill Sargent

Digitization: Corporate consumers define expectations

Digitization and digital disruptions continue to be discussed at global forums like the World Economic Forum (link):

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution builds on the Third Industrial Revolution, also known as the Digital Revolution, which entailed the proliferation of computers and the automation of record keeping; but the new wave of transformation differs from its predecessors in a few key ways.”

News articles frequently highlight stories of startups upending existing business models.  Business leaders and MBA students continue to review case studies of Uber and Airbnb shaping the sharing economy, and building cult-like following. Similarly, economists and financial analysts continue to scratch their head over the irrational exuberance of the price of Bitcoins jumping over $15,000 in December of 2017.

Many digital innovations are bring driven by entrepreneurs who think like their consumers: After I request a cab on my Uber App, I get a confirmation with details of my driver, type/color/plate of the car and my trip details are shared with the driver. Same goes for a tweet to an Airline asking for a special meal on my booking; or a comments that users post on a corporate blog or Facebook page.

Getting a quick digital-response releases the right bit of dopamine, cementing a closer relationship with the brand. Not getting an agile response does the opposite. Not receiving a tweet response from the airline confirming a special meal request is not a mere annoyance, but rather an act that may make the customer reconsider that airline during a travel future booking.

Simply put, executives need to take the ‘consumer’ mindset and explore opportunities to visualize digital services.


Digitization in the corporate world

Corporate executives are pushing their organizations to take on the challenge of digital disruption by evolving solutions that leveraging Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) strategies and other emerging technologies highlighted this report. Digital insights come from peers in the industry, and by taking a consumer mindset.

Execution of corporate digitization starts with user stories that aim to provide tangible benefits, customer responsiveness and cost savings. Medical insurance companies are goading consumers towards video-chat with doctors: this offers convenience and avoidance of wait time at doctors offices. Auto insurers offering “usage-based insurance” and discounts by analyzing data from on-board devices used by drivers. Banks are trying to enable digital customer-self-services and are offering value added and personalized services at branches.

As enterprises continue their digitization journey, technologists are also reflecting on Digitization as an uber term for IT transformation. (ref: “Digital” isn’t just IT done the right way !). The technology enablers for digitization incrementally build on existing design and development methodologies and Enterprise Architecture techniques.

The author defined a pragmatic approach to execute “Digital Strategies” in a recently published executive update  (Ref: Cutter Consortium). The premise of the approach is rather straightforward – execution requires business and IT leaders to identify distinct categories that a digitization program might fall into:

  • Lights-on digitization – aim to improve user experience and business performance, while reducing human effort and cost. Most of the lights-on digitization efforts are driven by IS leaders, who should take the opportunity to align these with other transformations.
  • Digital Excellence – initiatives require strong collaboration between IS teams and functional subject-matter experts (SMEs) to pilot and operationalize the ideas.   Business SMEs may also visualize user stories and engage executive sponsors for funding of pilots and scale-up of solutions.
  • Customer-centric digitization – programs aim to enhance digital engagement with the company’s customers, business partners, vendors, suppliers and other third parties. These initatives require strong business insights and are generally sponsored and steered by senior executives. IS leaders facilitate ideation and technology foresight, and ensure seamless introduction of these solutions,

The roadmap for successful execution should focus on technology enablers including Non-Functional Requirements (NFR), Integration principles, tools and technologies, along with sources of Data that will underpin successful digitization.

Digital solutions for corporate users need to ensure that technologies work in cohesion. This also also requires an analysis of fundamental challenges of executing IT transformations. For instance enabling comprehensive eCommerce solutions (link to case study) or design for responsiveness in social media (link) that consumers have come to expect.


Digital Transformations making headlines

  • Manufacturing giant GE defined the blueprint for its digital transformation a few years ago. A story in New York Times highlights General Eclectic’s digitization and automation journey (G.E., the 124-Year-Old Software Start-Up) “It may not qualify as a lightning-bolt eureka moment, but Jeffrey R. Immelt, chief executive of General Electric, recalls the June day in 2009 that got him thinking. He was speaking with G.E. scientists about new jet engines they were building, laden with sensors to generate a trove of data from every flight — but to what end? That data could someday be as valuable as the machinery itself, if not more so. But G.E. couldn’t make use of it. ‘We had to be more capable in software,’ Mr. Immelt said he decided. Maybe G.E. — a maker of power turbines, jet engines, locomotives and medical-imaging equipment — needed to think of its competitors as Amazon and IBM.”
  • Digitization in Food IndustryGeneral Mills taps into the ingenuity of startup companies – One year ago, the leaders at General Mills had a revelation: It couldn’t keep up. Specifically, the food giant was struggling to develop new, creative products at the pace of innovation that is required in today’s ever-changing food industry. The company launched a venture under the ‘301’ umbrella. 301 is focused on a different type of innovation than General Mills’ primary marketing teams. While the company’s various food divisions work to identify trends that it can apply to General Mills’ existing products — like making Cheerios gluten-free — 301 is seeking disruptive and niche food brands.
  • Digitiaztion in InsuranceInsurers are beginning to partner with and acquire technology startups to secure their competitive edge. According to Gartner research, 64 percent of the world’s 25 largest insurance companies have already invested directly or indirectly via their venture capital arms in insurtech startups.
  • Marketing – Salesforce acquired Krux, a company that tracks traffic (“data signatures”) across multiple devices — desktop, mobile, tablet, set-top — and channels — display, social, search, video.
  • Start-up outreach – IT major IBM is sharpening the focus of its SmartCamp outreach programme for the start-up ecosystem — from an across-the-board approach to one that makes it industry specific. “From this year, we started adding an industry focus… will continue looking at industry segments as the start-up space is ever evolving,” said Seema Kumar, country manager-ecosystem development, IBM India and South Asia.