When it comes to digital transformation, we can all agree that there’s a lot of hype and jargon around the definition of digital transformation and what it actually means for your organization. Some IT professionals and consultants argue that digital transformation is not actually about the underlying technology and that it is more about the organizational change and a change in the mindset of executive leadership and employees about how technology is utilized in everyday business. Digital transformation is more about the systems, processes, and utilization rather than the technology itself.
I partially agree with the viewpoint. However, I would also argue that there is no digital transformation without the underlying technology. Yes, technologies come and go. There is always going to be the next big thing or technology breakthrough that creates a competitive advantage for the organizations that are early adopters.
In this article, we examine the top eight digital transformation technologies that are impacting organizations today. They include Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), Enterprise Cloud Computing, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Business Intelligence (BI), and Artificial Intelligence (ML) and Machine Learning (ML).
First the “Why” Behind Digital Transformation
Organizations today are feeling a sense of urgency to stay on top of the latest technologies and begin their digital transformation as customer demand increases, customer experience expectations soar and competition heats up.
In order to effectively align resources, budgets and strategies with an ever-changing, dynamic business environment, many organizations turn to develop their digital transformation roadmap either internally or hire an outside digital transformation consultant. Digital transformation priorities vary from industry to industry and at the organizational level.
#1 – Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)
There’s no denying that customer support is changing and organizations are finding themselves under increased pressure to separate their products, services and customer experience from the competition. Today’s business climate is one that is one that is saturated with almost unlimited choices. It’s now more important than ever for organizations to emphasize the overall brand experience. Customer service plays a very large role in that equation.
It comes as no surprise that one of the hottest digital transformation technologies today is Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS). As SVP of Solution Engineering at Global Consulting Group (GCG), I can tell you that organizations are investing in cloud technologies like CCaaS at a faster rate than at any time before.
Why the rush to CCaaS? Many contact centers have been operating on outdated and disjointed technologies that hinder efficiency and productivity in the call center environment. The reality is that your contact center is only as good as the technology you deploy.
Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) provides organizations with a support platform that allows them to become more agile and scalable. It helps organizations streamline operations, reduce overhead, and provide more consistent service to customers. It is also highly customizable to the organization and allows add-ons for future technologies that impact customer support.
CCaaS allows customer service departments to concentrate more on the client experience and less on the supporting infrastructure saving cost in on-site equipment, maintenance, training, and upkeep.
#2 – Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)
The workplace is changing from shared workspaces to remote employees to contractors and vendors, it is all changing. It could also be said that the way we work is changing and mobility is a big deal. I guess you could call it organizational transformation.
Similar to CCaaS to the customer experience, UCaaS is all about employees and your workforce. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) delivers seamless, secure, and cost-effective communications across multiple channels such as voice, video, and text. UCaaS is available across a multitude of devices anywhere the user demands it.
UCaaS helps to promote virtual office environments and is more resilient due to cloud-based architectures, if one site goes down, usually not all sites go down and failover/redundancy mitigation features are rich.
Why should UCaaS be a part of your digital transformation story? Simply put, UCaaS platforms provide straightforward deployment, flexibility and value are often cited as the key reasons that organizations embrace digital transformation technologies. UCaaS promises to make organizations as productive and efficient as possible while meeting the demands of a changing workplace.
It’s estimated that more than half of businesses will be running UCaaS platforms, surpassing on-premises communications systems by 2020.
#3 – Enterprise Cloud Computing
Are cloud technologies the foundation for organizations in a new agile business world? One could certainly argue that viewpoint. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that enterprise cloud computing is number three on our list of the top eight business technologies for your digital transformation roadmap.
Is the cloud about moving away from legacy IT? You know, a shift in focus in moving from a CapEx to an OpEx environment? That could certainly be a big driver as to why organizations are moving to the cloud from on-premise and colocation data centers. However, there is more to it. The cloud is about future-proofing your technology and preparing for what is ahead with the flood of data that will hit as a result of the internet of things (IoT), big data and business intelligence (BI) and of course artificial intelligence (AI).
Cloud allows organizations to organizations to scale their infrastructure as needed to support changing priorities while reducing risks associated with wasted IT resources which can inhibit innovation by limiting capital investment in new products and services. It is also the key to delivering flexible, on-demand access to the resources required for technology innovations, new delivery models and speed to market for product and service offerings.
Is it possible that someday we will eventually go from a mentality of ‘cloud-first’ to ‘cloud-only?’ I guess we will have to wait and see.
#4 – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems
While digital transformation is often defined by innovative technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning and internet of things, enterprise resource planning (ERP) seems to get forgotten about. It is placed on the backburner and there really is not all that much enthusiasm about deploying new ERP systems or platforms. There are several reasons why this may be the case. It is everything from being painful and expensive to implement to keeping a mentality of ‘status quo.’
Although it is not new, exciting or disruptive, ERP should be a top priority in your digital transformation roadmap. Why? It is critical for managing day-to-day activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management, and compliance and supply chain operations. ERPs can also help with performance management which helps plan, budget, predict and report on an organization’s financial results.
ERP is often the backbone of business systems and processes functionally tying together the foundation of business operations. System Integration into ERP is a fundamental part of digital transformation assisting in streamlining the process by implementing automation
Simply put, ERP is critical to your organization and integrating a platform that utilizes the latest technologies such as cloud and artificial intelligence can prove highly beneficial for both your top and bottom line while driving innovation from within.
#5 – Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Remember the days of tracking sales leads and orders in spreadsheets? Tracking contacts in your email? Everything was manual and disjointed. There was no automation, alerts, tracking, and analytics. That could very well be the case for some organizations today. It is either that paradigm or else they are using an outdated CRM platform that does not fulfill even their based CRM requirements. Someone from the year 2000 called and said they want their spreadsheets back.
From a technology perspective, far too many organizations are still relying on yesterday’s techniques and tools, most notably CRM, to provide them with actionable data.
Today, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is all about customer service, marketing automation, and sales force automation. As enterprises seek digital transformation, a more strategic approach to CRM is needed, where more of the C-suite has been involved in the decision-making, as the impact is felt across multiple departments, including marketing, sales, billing, supply, logistics, and after-care service.
When evaluating CRM platforms, look for a unified environment that supports a coherent strategy that incorporates enterprise and demand characteristics in customer interactions, especially when an infinite variety of journeys cannot be second-guessed.
#6 – Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of things (IoT) is still in the “early adoption” phases for organizations which makes it a competitive differentiator for those that jump on the bandwagon early. Many organizations are experimenting with the technology and how and what it can do to increase their efficiency, productivity and innovative capabilities.
What do IoT technologies include? In its simplest form, IoT includes interrelated computing devices and unique sensors that transmit and transfer data without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT devices can be used to monitor temperatures, humidity, weight, vibrations, and many other important data points.
Should IoT be on your digital transformation roadmap? The answer is absolutely. For CIOs and IT departments, it is time to start strategically thinking and planning how IoT can be integrated throughout your organization and within different business units. Not only that. How will your organization use the incoming data from IoT for its advantage?
There are plenty of business cases and use cases for IoT technologies. Look no further than the different industries such as healthcare, energy, logistics and transportation and manufacturing that are already using it to their advantage. Don’t wait for 5G wireless to make IoT more widely adopted. Start now and gain that competitive advantage.
In 2020 and beyond, it will be about the data you have, the data you receive and what you do with that data which will prove to be the most value to your organization.
#7 – Big Data and Business Intelligence (BI)
It has been said a thousand times before that data is the new gold. That is true. Otherwise, why would Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tesla and other companies focus so heavily on collecting data? Data is the new digital gold rush.
Data and analytics are the key accelerants of an organization’s digital transformation efforts. Simply put, you cannot have one without the other. Is it pointless to collect tons of data that you cannot analyze or use for your organization benefit? It depends on whether or not you can use that data in the future.
Forrester Research defines business intelligence as “a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insights and decision-making.”
Is big data and analytics tools like business intelligence a part of your organization’s digital transformation strategy? According to Gartner, 90% of corporate strategies by 2022 will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency.
Organizations will move away from merely using data as a resource and analytics as reporting and decision-making support tools. Data and analytics will become the centerpiece of enterprise strategy, focus and investment.
#8 – Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
You cannot mention digital transformation today without artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). We are living it what Google coined as The Age of AI. AI and ML are the biggest buzzwords in the world of technology. They receive both praise and condemnation from respected tech leads.
Organizations embracing AI and ML technologies quite enthusiastically. As per a report from International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide spending on the technologies and services that enable the digital transformation is likely to reach $2.3 trillion in 2023. Similarly, Gartner’s CIO Survey found that in the last four years, AI implementation grew by a massive 270%.
We discussed data and business intelligence as being an important strategy in your digital transformation journey. AI and ML is how your organization will make data valuable and competitive advantage. This is because AI and ML can help analyze complex data and make accurate decisions based on that data, it is a valuable ally in the process of achieving complete digital transformation.
Artificial intelligence can lend a helping hand in the optimizing processes and also derive insights that may help improve their bottom line. Here are some applications where digital transformation coupled with machine learning can deliver top results. Dynamic Analytics, Driving Economies at Scale, Faster Processes.