Five dig­i­tal busi­ness trends to look out for in 2019

Kuwait Times - - Technology - By Scott Gib­son Group Ex­ec­u­tive of Dig­i­tal Busi­ness So­lu­tions, Di­men­sion Data

Too many as­pir­ing dig­i­tal busi­nesses aren’t set up cor­rectly for dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. They’re or­ga­nized in si­los around tra­di­tional func­tions in­stead of hav­ing a flex­i­ble net­work of teams that work on trans­form­ing key busi­ness pro­cesses.

The fo­cus of many dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion ef­forts to date, has been on the adop­tion of new tech­nolo­gies. But without first do­ing some or­ga­ni­za­tional re­design, this has been like forc­ing a square peg into a round hole. What does a suc­cess­ful or­ga­ni­za­tion re­struc­ture look like? Which tech­nolo­gies and strate­gies will ac­cel­er­ate a com­pany’s dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney next year and be­yond? Di­men­sion Data’s Tech­nol­ogy Trends 2019 re­port ex­plores seven key ar­eas of fo­cus for com­pa­nies, with dig­i­tal busi­ness play­ing a crit­i­cal role. Here are five trends that will be dom­i­nant in the dig­i­tal busi­ness in 2019.

1. Or­ga­ni­za­tions will re­struc­ture to get ready for dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion

Many com­pa­nies aren’t set up cor­rectly for dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. An­ti­quated job func­tions and pro­cesses have re­sulted in a real lack of flex­i­bil­ity.

En­cour­ag­ingly, we’re now see­ing more com­pa­nies ac­cept­ing that to trans­form suc­cess­fully, they must first re­design their core busi­ness pro­cesses around the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, and then re­or­gan­ise the en­ter­prise to align with these dig­i­tal pro­cesses. Not ev­ery com­pany wants - or needs - a rad­i­cal, non-hi­er­ar­chi­cal struc­ture like some dig­i­tal na­tives have adopted. Most, how­ever, should start by adding a net­work of project-based teams tasked with trans­form­ing par­tic­u­lar ar­eas. In 2019, more en­ter­prises will aban­don their ‘tech­nol­ogy first’ at­tempts at dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion and em­brace a ‘cus­tomer first’ ap­proach.

Con­se­quently, suc­cess­ful trans­form­ers will fo­cus on what their cus­tomers want; us­ing data to un­der­stand them, in­no­vat­ing rel­e­vant of­fer­ings, re­design busi­ness pro­cesses, re­struc­ture the or­gan­i­sa­tion around them, and - only then im­ple­ment en­abling tech­nolo­gies.

2. IoT is start­ing to de­liver ROI

Af­ter much hype and buzz, com­pa­nies are fi­nally start­ing to en­joy a pos­i­tive im­pact on cor­po­rate prof­itabil­ity from their in­ter­net of things (IoT) im­ple­men­ta­tions, and this up­ward curve will ac­cel­er­ate into 2019.

The kind of pro­jects that pro­duce a concrete fi­nan­cial im­prove­ment tend to be those that look at data through a new lens and ap­ply IoT at mul­ti­ple points in the value chain. The best busi­ness out­comes are ob­tained when you use IoT to mon­i­tor an en­tire busi­ness process and blend your own data with third-party sources.

The Royal Swazi­land Sugar Cor­po­ra­tion, for ex­am­ple, is us­ing IoT through­out the process of grow­ing, trans­port­ing, and pro­cess­ing sugar cane. This is in­creas­ing their ef­fi­ciency at ev­ery point and im­prov­ing cor­po­rate prof­itabil­ity. They use it to mon­i­tor the wa­ter lev­els in fields, rivers, and reser­voirs then com­bine this with re­motely gath­ered data on crop growth and health. Weather fore­cast data is then used to con­sider the cost of the elec­tric­ity re­quired to pump wa­ter for ir­ri­gation.

3. Ready-made plat­forms are ac­cel­er­at­ing dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion

Ac­cel­er­ated dig­i­tal­iza­tion is achieved by those who don’t try to build ev­ery­thing be­spoke, but rather ex­ploit ready­made plat­forms that get them to their goals a lot faster.

Plat­form adop­tion is get­ting more pop­u­lar in the in­fra­struc­ture space, due to the un­pre­dictabil­ity of the dig­i­tal world. Buy­ing into a pre-built plat­form that can adapt quickly is in­creas­ingly pre­ferred to build­ing and own­ing your own. Con­sum­ing in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy as a man­aged ser­vice not only in­creases agility and speed of ex­e­cu­tion, it re­duces com­pli­ance and se­cu­rity risks. This al­lows or­gan­i­sa­tions to pay for ser­vices as they use them. Research found that 60 per­cent of or­gan­i­sa­tions are en­gag­ing in dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion through out­sourc­ing and part­ner­ing, while a study by The Tech­nol­ogy In­dus­try Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion re­veals that tech­nol­ogy-man­aged ser­vices are grow­ing at 40 per­cent.

Bar­loworld Equip­ment and Han­dling de­cided to move their sales man­age­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties from a stand­alone so­lu­tion im­ple­mented 12 years pre­vi­ously to a cloud-based ex­ten­sion of its en­ter­prise SAP plat­form. This not only in­creased the com­pany’s abil­ity to pro­vide time to value for its cus­tomers, it was also a ben­e­fi­ciary of time to value it­self.

4. Dig­i­tal lead­ers are look­ing at data through a new lens Old ways of look­ing at data aren’t cut­ting it. More of our dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion en­gage­ments with clients are start­ing with ma­jor data en­gi­neer­ing ex­er­cises. A lot of data in or­gan­i­sa­tions isn’t struc­tured ap­pro­pri­ately for anal­y­sis. They have data they don’t need, and need data they don’t have. They need to add new kinds of data from ex­ter­nal sources to shed new light on their busi­nesses, and they need to fo­cus on dif­fer­ent met­rics.

5. B2B dig­i­tal trad­ing plat­forms are coming

One of the big­gest growth ar­eas in 2019 will be B2B dig­i­tal trad­ing plat­forms. Bill McDer­mott, CEO of SAP, pre­dicts a world where cus­tomers con­nect di­rectly into your sup­ply chain, and it’s hard not to agree with him. The ad­van­tages, both in terms of cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency, are too ex­cit­ing to ig­nore.

If you can show busi­ness clients not just cur­rent stock lev­els but the ex­pected date of re­plen­ish­ment, they’ll be more con­fi­dent about or­der­ing from you. If they can give you bet­ter data on their fu­ture de­mand, you can op­ti­mise your in­ven­tory and pro­duc­tion ac­cord­ingly. And fu­ture in­te­gra­tion will go even fur­ther. Be­yond to­day’s sup­ply chain col­lab­o­ra­tion linked to ERP, we’ll see in­te­gra­tion with CRM sys­tems fea­tur­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ro­botic process au­to­ma­tion. These will al­low con­sumers to reach right back to your sup­plier’s in­ven­tory through their mo­bile apps. That’s true dig­i­tal busi­ness.

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