Change the world with digital business transformation


(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 4 2015)

Markets are changing rapidly. Companies have always had just one chance: they have to face these processes of change actively. Otherwise they will disappear. However, this is not achieved merely with one creative idea. Customers have to be focussed, technology has to be implemented and employees have to be integrated.

At the opening of the International Motor Show in Frankfurt last September, Porsche Manager Müller dismissed the vision of cars driving autonomously as being a hype. 

This is how it went for many innovations in the past. For example, when Thomas Edison presented his light bulb, the President of the Stevens Institute of Technology raved that the plan was doomed to fail. Similar prognoses were given to the invention of the railway (which was too fast for the human organism), the telephone (too complicated), the television (nobody wanted to stare at a box for the whole evening), the car (superfluous) or the computer (for which there was no market worth mentioning). All the inventions and improvements which have changed our society long term, have turned markets upside down and sooner or later made traditional things unnecessary.

While to a huge extent production technology was automated, standardised and therefore production processes accelerated and capacities increased during industrialisation, the turning point which accompanies the opportunities of the digital age is possibly much more profound. And opponents are emerging at the same rate as that with which the changes are taking place. Sometimes these are the experts, the entrepreneurs, the scientists, customers, employees or the media. Everyone seems to fear change like the plague.

Digital transformation – a process which was initiated by Konrad Zuse with the invention of the computer and which became established with the spread of the world wide web – marked the transfer of analogue and linear business models into the digital world. Or at least into digital distribution. Instead of printed books, e-books are on offer. Films are no longer rented in the form of videos, but are ‘streamed’; the buyer can conveniently compare and purchase products and services from the office or from home. Decisions are influenced and made on the basis of search engine results or recommendations and evaluations from social media.

Suppliers have to make arrangements in order to be able to offer digital services, products or content (texts, pictures, films). The following technologies are used for this: with Digital Asset Management (DAM), companies can organise media assets, profiles, addresses, appointments and much more. All these measures ensure better quality and consistency for brand content, optimise production and a can enable a faster time to market. Content Management takes care of the creation of contents. In connection with Business Process Management (BPM) all processes can be simply modelled. Here, tasks, appointments, resources and comprehensive controlling and automation options are integrated. Product Information Management ultimately links product information with classifications and their contents and so controls their use in all media. It links purchasing with marketing, and via interface, with goods management – for transparent and error-free communication in all channels, regions and countries.  Here it is necessary firstly that all assets, processes or product information is no longer administrated analogue in classic and linear file systems, but organised intelligently and covering all media channels. Therefore created collaboratively, available and able to be distributed rapidly.

Digital business transformation goes a good step further. It uses the advantages and potentials of integration and implementation of new technologies as an opportunity to change existing business models and generate new business potential from technical, functional and user-oriented innovations.

This is a paradigm shift for many companies: first, the needs of the user (customers, suppliers, partners, multipliers and also employers, etc.) is at the centre of the offer. Instead of developing products and services and then offering them on the market, the market becomes part of an – ideally agile – development process. Companies have to strategically orientate themselves towards the customer, look through the customers’ eyes and put their products and services to the ‘customer test’. Lean start-up methods such as rapid prototyping, live tests with the first minimum viable product and progressive beta tests lend themselves to this. Statistics should not only be collected in the form of market research, but also with polls, tests and crowdsourcing. It is only in this way that the feedback of future customers can flow directly back into the product or service. If the user is part of this product or service, he and his interaction have to be recorded and appreciated – long before the offer is launched. For this reason, the sustainable changes and new orientation of communication, marketing, sales and service become essential.

This is where technology such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) comes in, for the consequent orientation of a company towards its customers and the systematic forming of the customer relations process, which have to be documented, managed and measured. Or analytical tools, in order to be able to measure the data (data extraction), and business analytics to generate useable knowledge from this information in real time. More or less to investigate user commitment, control production processes or monitor figures. Fully automatic targeting can be derived from this, all communication and media can be targeted at the recipient, both contextually and in terms of relevance, and can be played on all devices and channels efficiently and free of errors via Multichannel Campaign Management (MCCM).

But be aware: technology can only serve as a vehicle here. The consequent orientation towards customer needs is the strategic core task of the management. A further decisive management task is to initiate and accompany the change in organisation. As a rule, people are sceptical to change. All measures involved in digital transformation (here: implementation of technological systems) can help to demonstrate, optimise and shape tasks, processes, and people involved more transparently.

Even here, involved parties have to be prepared for pending changes and ideally included. It is only in this way that doubts and fears can be eliminated and the necessary security can be offered.

The general rule is: the more the employees are integrated, the greater the willingness to transform. It is only when the company sees itself as a learning organisation that changes can also be experienced as improvements. The willingness counts as one of the most important success factors for companies. And when the employees see themselves as a key factor in new business models, a culture of innovation will emerge in many areas of the organisation. It is certainly the case that (digital) innovations are brought into being by people but realised via technology. And we should not forget one thing: everything which can be digital, is becoming digital. That is particularly the case for business models.

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censhare supports companies in digital business transformation with integrated technologies for global communication and efficient business processes.

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Picture credit © Christina Reichl Photography/Getty Images

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