System Integrators enable Digitization and eCommerce
Enterprises large and small continue their digitization journey, and CEOs, CXOs and CIOs want be at the forefront of their corporate digitization initiatives. A recent front page cover 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.
Photo credit: Michael Kappel
In many organizations, CEOs or their deputies drive the digitization strategy, but the execution is generally left to experts with a transformation and consulting expertise. A report by HfS consulting highlights “The Rise of the Digital Transformers?”
Enterprise brands face a number of challenges as they work to adapt to an increasingly digital marketplace and transform their business processes around a digital-first model and enable a secure, and trusted, digital presence for their partners and consumers.
In response to these challenges, we’re seeing a refocusing and expansion of traditional business roles, one which blends vertical (customer facing) and horizontal (enterprise focused) roles and places increased value on “operational strategists” who operate as transformational architects in this brave new digital world.
Executives who can also drive digitization are much in demand, especially since business leaders continue to see the potential for using digital technologies to achieve transformation, but they’re unclear on how to get the results. They see case studies of companies using technology to digitize their business, but sometimes wonder how they can follow.
One company that has succeeded is Starbucks. In 2009, after dismal performance cut the company’s stock price in half, Starbucks looked to digital to help re-engage with customers. It created a vice president of digital ventures, hiring Adam Brotman to fill it. His first move was to offer free Wi-Fi in Starbucks stores, along with a digital landing page with a variety of digital media choices, including free content from publications like The Economist. It sounds simple, but as Brotman says, “we were not just doing something smart around Wi-Fi, but we were doing something innovative around how we were connecting with customers.” – Embracing Digital Technology (MIT Sloan Review)
Examples of domain specific Digitization
- Virtual doctor visits promoted by Insurance companies to lower costs – The Doctor Will Video Chat With You Now: Insurer Covers Virtual Visits (NPR)
- Digital Banking – Interview with CEO of a large bank in India, ICICI: ‘Our Customers Are Definitely Our Biggest Role Model’ – We are digitising both the channel and physical interaction. We are changing the branch experience too. So either the customer comes and does everything by way of self-service or even when the customer is driving towards the branch, he/ she can pre-create some of the transactions on mobile (like a pay-in slip.) – Business Week
Companies that plan for digital transformation need to understand their strengths, along with new business models and capabilities they will leverage. They also need to identify the gaps and skills required to realize digitization. For many traditional companies, digitalization may involve creating additional value for customers based on the existing product and services.
Digitization involves engaging the business stakeholders in review of business capabilities and models, but an understanding of technologies is equally important. A Forbes article highlights progression of changes digital promises to deliver
- Increased efficiency and energy savings, as manual, duplicated or calcified processes are replaced with software-defined and analytics-driven processes.
- Increased market responsiveness, with businesses able to respond to consumer demand through social media, and anticipate future trends through analytics.
- Higher levels of collaboration, as members of organizations are able to work together and share information with each other almost instantaneously, as well as with customers.
- Greater innovation, as businesses have greater access to pools of knowledge and resources outside their walls.
- More entrepreneurial energy and opportunity, as teams or individuals are able to take advantage of an abundance of cloud and social media resources to launch new businesses or business lines with minimal startup capital required.
Enterprises review the execution of their digital strategies on internal and external fronts. Aspects internal to the Enterprise may include
- Introducing appropriate Digital Tools in their enterprise, automation, and system to system integration
- End-user experience, and improving productivity of users. Prior to “Digitization era,” these efforts were also known as “paperless office” initiatives.
- Data and analytics – Ability to continually enable employees to review and act on vast amounts of data is among the key capabilities enabled by digitization.
External facing digitization efforts may include
- Design of eCommerce and external facing portals, payment gateways and machine-to-machine integration to integrate front-facing eCommerce with back-end technology platforms
- Customer user experience, corporate branding – Usability, and intuitive user experience are key to success of Digitization efforts. This includes design of applications that can be mobile-enabled to be responsive to customer demands on multiple devices and channels.
- Social media, social engagement and integrating with CRM – Customers have begun to expect corporate responsiveness on multiple social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and others, in addition to traditional channels like calling a 1-800 number or sending an email from the web portal. A responsive digital strategy should integrate all the channels seamlessly
Opportunity in Consulting and System integration
Corporate digitization efforts and the need for expertise to guide the transformation translates to opportunity for consultants, system-integrators and software product development firms. Almost every business and technology consulting firm has realized the potential opportunities in corporate digitization.
Analyst firms periodically review Systems Integrators in this space