As organizations get moving on the digital transformation road map, they may abruptly find themselves running more on a bumpy dirt track rather than a Formula One race course with expected high-speed pit-stops. The learnings from this experience are sometimes hard to accept. One of the key reasons for the bumpy track is that existing organizational structures are often incompatible with the requirements of delivering digital experiences to customers. Organizations need to take a deep breath and start relooking at their structure from the point of view of the customer rather than traditional departmental silos and legacy job functions.
One of the key changes likely to happen across 2019 is that organizations moving down the path of digital transformation will restructure to bring in flexibility so that they can refocus on what the customer wants. Digital technologies will be leveraged to enhance the customer experience and project teams will work together to rebuild the organization around customer data, innovative experiences, revamped business processes, and redesigned job roles. This will help the organization to move forward rather than face resistance, similar to fitting a square peg into a round hole.
Other than organizational structure, another area that will need revamp in 2019 will be the approach around generating, accessing and analyzing customer data. Organizations beginning their digital transformation exercise will quickly realize that they have a lot of data that they do not need, and very little data that they do need, to begin their journey into understanding customer insights. Organizations will need to build new processes to generate the data that they do need and also build new structures to aid in the analysis of that data.
In order to build their repositories of insightful and valuable, customer centric data across 2019, organizations will be successful this time around by investing in the Internet of Things. By investing in sensors, devices, applications, connected core and edge networks, across entire business processes and supply chains, organizations will begin to realize how to generate their return on investments through customer data aggregation and analytics.
Not only will organizations be more successful in 2019 by investing in the Internet of Things, for their own data analytics, but they will also begin to see the value in blending into their data, repositories from third party data sources. This may include data from open data platforms maintained by national government agencies such as weather, population demographics, urban statistics, vehicular movements as well as open data repositories from global agencies. By building correlations between their own data and other third-party data sources, organizations will better model customer behavior and responses in a predictive manner, yielding better return on investments and net new revenue sources.
Successful availability of data across the entire customer experience and business supply chain will give organizations the confidence to open up their inventory and delivery in a real time manner to suppliers, partners and end-customers. As suppliers, partners and end-customers get access to not only current levels of product and stock availability but also future levels in a predictive manner, they will also begin to engage in a more proactive manner. This enhanced level of supply chain forecasting with predictive demand levels, combined with ERP, CRM, artificial intelligence, robotics and automation, promises to be one of the exciting new trends in 2019.
Automation using robotic processes will drive huge gains across 2019 as machine learning, neural networks and artificial intelligence are progressively added to the complete end to end of business processes. Geographical compliance challenges coupled with market behavior will be a key driver for the adoption of more and more automation driving predictive behavior of demand levels for a product or service. Other drivers for the adoption of robotic process automation will be the ability to reduce costs of operation, enhanced support levels for customer demands, and ability to deliver personalized experiences effectively.
As organizations begin to make progress in their digital transformation exercise in 2019, another key learning and realization for them will be the availability of prebuilt digital technology services, frameworks, and platforms. As much as possible, digital transformation adopters need to reach out and access service partners who have prepared such tools and building blocks for them. There is little need for such organizations dabbling in the early stages of digital transformation to start building the blocks themselves or start tackling the complexities of creating such platforms.
It is far easier to leave the challenges and complexities of building and managing the digital technology components of 2019 to vendors and their service partners and focus on making progress in the organization's digital transformation objectives. Organizations adopting an active role of buying-in managed technology services, will find themselves making accelerated progress in their journeys. They will also find it easier to invest and build scale around pre-tested, compliant and secure platforms, that are reliable building blocks for their onward transformation journeys. Success in 2019 appears to be more predictive than before.
The author, Paul Potgieter is Managing Director - UAE, Dimension Data