Few days back I happened to attend an online expert lecture conducted by one of the prominent business schools in Hyderabad. During the call while answering to the question on what is that the organization is implementing to go digital to manage their operations and manufacturing, the speaker suggested how implementing collaboration tools has helped the organization in digital transformation. It made me thought what the other things organizations around the world are doing for digital transformation. Setting up of collaboration tools will improve employee collaboration, however without pandemic also many organizations are on the path to implementing collaboration tools, as it is a pre-requisite for today organization to run their businesses. When an organization is operating on a global scale, it is evident to have online communication tools, data sharing functionalities and secure desktop system etc. Though the scale at which such facilities available might differ for organization to organization. So, when a CIO/CEO comments, by implementing Zoom or Microsoft Teams or running office 365, they have achieved digitalization during this pandemic, it is usually more than mere implementation of such tools.
We can understand still it is a dream for small organizations to have collaboration tools in place or central file sharing or SharePoint sites. But for organizations which are global major with an established collaboration network is already available within their organizations. They can achieve a lot. We need to look in the right direction at the definition of digital transformation. We should aim to cut through the hype created by technology vendors and system integrators who tend to project their offerings as digital transformation.
Some of the examples of how major organizations managed digital transformation, besides moving towards implementation of zoom or collaboration tools during this Pandemic include.
In one of the recent CIO talks sponsored tech talks, a major pharmaceutical company executive explained what is that they are doing to achieve digitalization in the current Pandemic. Transformation of Supply Chain and Logistics with digital technologies and use of AR/VR to work on equipment repairs and management has been quoted as the main digitalization change. Similarly, the organization has also ensured that they manage the Pandemic by enabling Virtual desktop to all their direct and indirect employees coupled with high availability of customer service facilities. Another notable firm has carried out Operational research and data for modelling for the vaccine development. They have used IoT sensors on the shop floor to analyses the contact tracing for people who are working. This made employees believe in safety first behavior.
I have also came across a session from an Apparel major, how they are using 3D design tools to design the apparels, generate a curated selling experience using technology driven customer presentations such as videos, go to market strategy. Building avatars based on product libraries and bringing to life digitally. They have also using their supply chain to manage the production. The company also worked on driving technology enabled operating model changes and the way they want to operate in future. Data visualization are used to help in decision making
Customer experience, buying experience, OTC Automation, driving business via analytics data platform are used by another notable firm. The firm made efforts to migrate their applications to cloud first, mobile first culture within the organization. They are ensured to consume SAS technologies wherever it was required and ensured to run some applications on premise – ensuring to have an well worked out hybrid cloud approach. Coming to the way organization is structured, the organization ensured to have a highly integrated scrum teams participated in technology and business teams.
Virtual trading experience has been provided to the traders in some cases like for example in banking sector. Sharing all the information to traders and insights via collaboration tools to communication are suggested for managing post pandemic impact. When it comes to operating the day to day transactions, some banks are moved to digital channels via online banking tools like mobile tools and used chatbots and ensuring some level of contact at their branches.
To conclude, there are references on how companies have worked on their network capacity management, moving to hybrid cloud strategy, setting up zero trust virtual desktop systems and platform based agile development. These are also used to ensure rapid acceleration and mobility to ensure easy accessibility with security to information. Some of the human resource suggestions made include need for maintaining close contact with employees during this pandemic ensuring employees are feeling well.
Now coming to the question of how organizations can achieve 10x transformation during this Pandemic. There were couple of strategies discussed like employee involvement, ideation process, virtual design thinking sessions etc. As suggested It is achieved by incorporating ability to screen many innovative ideas rapidly like 10-4-2-1 model of screening digitalization ideas. People from multiple countries are allowed to take part in the discussion around ideation, innovation. Rapidly changing delivery models. Clear audio and video to work with collaboration tools are used in some cases. Business solution discussions with other managers, changing business process for going digital and optimize the business are some other topics which are discussed. One major point which was discussed in almost all sessions include how the timelines have reduced. Some of the initiatives which used to take months are now being managed in a span of weeks’ time.
However, some of the challenges to going to digital include, missing digital leadership like majority of organizations have very few digitally savvy leaders on the leadership board. There is heightened need for the organizations to manage their operations on priority to ensure continuity. The importance of working on required technologies for future and how to curate them, how to manage employees with necessary technical skills and how to integrate them in business is also important. Maintaining this continued sense of urgency which was forced upon us by the pandemic and ensuring organizational alignment in future is critical for the success of digital transformation of the organizations.
Before I end, I would like to leave with some questions to assess the true digitalization brought by the initiatives you/your organization have invested.
- Have you defined your processes in such a way that your E2E scenarios covering the way you order products, manufacture products, and deliver products use digital technologies? – Digitally ordered – Digitally delivered.
- Did you notice a change in your organization network and technology infrastructure more streamlined for meeting the digital future like bandwidth, agility, and availability? Did you ensure business continuity of your processes.?
- Did you carry out efforts where more granular data collection, analysis and deriving insights which increase product delivery, development, or increased value and customer experience is delivered.
- Is the implementation helped to achieve societal goals and employee wellbeing by incorporating contactless operations or distributed digital manufacturing?
- Finally, did you measure the digital maturity of your organization before the Pandemic and Post pandemic using the checklist approach of your infrastructure, people, culture.