why should I care about digital transformation?

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Digital transformation is perhaps an overused word in the media today, but it really has the potential to have a profound impact on businesses around the world. To start with its worth looking at the four major technology disruptions have made digital transformation so important: mobile, cloud, information and social.

In little more than a decade mobility has transformed the world. Gartner predicts that a staggering 2.3 billion mobile devices will ship in 2015. It’s no longer unusual to want to work in any location and on any content, such as collaborate on preparing a presentation while on a train with someone on the other side of the world.

All these devices worldwide has also created a deluge of information, with an expected 36 billion terabytes of data generated annually by 2020. Social is another area of staggering growth with 2.5 billion social media users expected by 2017. Facebook alone reported 864 million daily active users in September 2014.

Finally, the cloud has also managed to transform how all of us consume computing resources. IDC  predicts that spending on public cloud services will reach $127 billion in 2018, representing half of all software, server and storage spending. This rapid growth outstrips traditional premise based IT by a factor of six.

seizing new opportunities

Traditional ways of doing business limits the opportunity that these disruptions offer. Digital innovations can change the way businesses interact with customers, improve their operational processes and even transform their business model.

Look, for example, at the success that the Financial Times has achieved in its digital transformation from a paper newspaper to a “a premium brand with high quality content” – across all devices.  Not only has FT’s total circulation including print risen, digital online paid subscribers are increasing 23% per year and now represents more than two-thirds of total readership. And all this in an industry where we are told that users will not pay for content anymore.

MIT Sloan interviewed 157 executives in 50 companies, with a turnover of at least one billion, on their progress with digital transformation. Unsurprisingly, it found that companies were undertaking digital transformation at different paces and experienced various levels of success. “The best companies – those we call Digirati – combine digital activity with strong leadership to turn technology into transformation,” the research said.

Here are three examples how businesses can take advantage of digital transformation to transform how they work, what they sell and how they interact with customers.

1. new ways of working: flexible workspaces

Digital transformation can revolutionize the way businesses work. The massive growth in mobile devices means that anyone can work productively anywhere. Employees don’t want to be tied down to a traditional office with a desktop PC and a 9-5 working day anymore. They want to start the day working at home replying to emails, work on their presentation on the way to a customer meeting and drop into a shared workspace to brainstorm with colleagues.

Employees need secure access to their corporate files and applications on a range of devices at any location for this to be a successful proposition. Orange developed a mobile workspace tablet application for building supplies company Union Materiaux that is specifically designed to help their employees work anywhere, providing them secure access to corporate information and applications such as ordering.

2. new revenue streams: Internet of Things

The Internet of things provides a massive opportunity for business to digitize, optimize and automate existing processes, create new revenue streams and drive innovation. Agri-tech company Dacom has used machine-to-machine technology and sensors to allow farmers to monitor crops throughout the growing season and allow them to optimize how their manage their land at any specific time. This allows the farmers to increase land productivity. Without M2M this type of real-time analysis would not be possible.

3. new customer experience: 360° relationships

The Internet and social media has completely changed the relationship that business has with its customers, particularly in retail. Through the Internet customers are able to shop anywhere and retail outlets with poor service will suffer. Social media has emerged as a key source of information for product choice. For example 43% of social media users buy a product after sharing it on social media – and this includes offline sales.

Retailers need take advantage of digital transformation to adopt new technologies and support cross-channel communications that enhance the quality of each customer contact. French retailer Darty has given its sales staff with 4,000 tablets connected wirelessly to the store’s IT system, to help them bring together the online and offline customer experience.

Find out more about how Orange can help you with your digital transformation here.

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.