With the term digital transformation on the lips of every keynote speech, article, lockdown webinar or big tech vendors’ go-to market strategy, the team at DeeperThanBlue highlight and discuss two of the key areas of growth fundamental to success for enterprises large and small in 2021’s digital world.

What is digital transformation? Is it a new phenomenon?

Over to world-leading research and advisory company Gartner:

“Digital business transformation is the process of exploiting digital technologies and supporting capabilities to create a robust new digital business model.”

We would build on this to say that in today’s consumer-led society, having a robust business model simply isn’t enough. However, leveraging technology in ways to engage with and excite your customer base in new ways is critical in maintaining market share and competitive advantage, as consumers both B2C and B2B are increasingly more discerning in how they expect organisations to deliver. Digital transformation is not static, then – what was considered revolutionary and transformative 10, 15 or even 20 years ago can be considered the norm now, or worse still, redundant.

So, what are the methods that are revolutionising businesses today?

  1. A cloud first mentality

Many will have heard of cloud. As individuals we all use cloud technology in one form or another on a daily basis, from online video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon to accessing your emails from your smart phone.

For businesses though, at the heart of cloud computing is the concept of using cloud services providers (such as Google Cloud Platform or Microsoft Azure), data warehouses and servers to run software.

For large enterprises, this means they’ll no longer be burdened with the costs and maintenance of operating their own data centres. This has many benefits – not only in allowing IT budgets to be moved from a CapEx model to an OpEx one or freeing up developers once tasked with simply ‘keeping the lights on’, as well as maintaining servers, patching and software upgrades, so they’re free to embark on innovation projects.

But also – and most crucially – they’re no longer bound by the constrains of their own data centres, meaning they can scale up or down their requirements depending on their needs, allowing ultimate flexibility when reacting quickly to customer demands or seizing an opportunity to be first to market with a new initiative.

For smaller organisations, it’s meant significantly reduced start-up costs, without the need to invest in expensive servers and hardware – budgets can be spent in a way that engages customers from the very beginning.

Cloud has also led to the rise in tech vendors offering their Software as a Service (SaaS), which allowed smaller businesses to leverage software that previously would have been too expensive and out of reach.

As a result, we are seeing more and more smaller businesses compete digitally with household brands, and we have come to expect a similar level of customer experience regardless of the size of organisation.

  1. eCommerce strong

eCommerce in the retail sector has been growing steadily over the last 10 years – even before the pandemic hit, we were all used to ordering or buying some things online.

However, real innovation often only occurs when we’re presented with serious challenges, and whilst most businesses were resting on their laurels in thinking their online offering was ‘good enough’, the overnight decimation of the physical trade meant only the truly forward-thinking businesses were able to capitalise and excel.

It became no longer enough to simply have an online store, offering a catalogue of products. Now supply chains, stock and order management, delivery options, checkout personalisation were all put to the test and highlighted the need to have a carefully considered and thoroughly stress-tested eco-system of complementing technologies.

Some brands have gone further in thinking up new and exciting ways to engage their visitors with things like ‘virtual in-store’ experiences (notably Ralph Lauren and Charlotte Tilbury) and a stronger focus on social commerce (look at Burberry for inspiration) and learning from site analytics to synchronise with consumer behaviour and provide a level of personalisation they cannot refuse.

The game in town now for the rest is to spend the remainder of 2021 catching up, as the pandemic has clearly accelerated the direction of travel for retail and there’s no going back.

  1. Never sit still

There are clearly other elements driving organisational change, such as new ways of integrating business systems – more important now than ever, given the hybrid mix of on-premise, on-cloud and SaaS workloads.

Or in gaining better insights through data and analytics and AI infused analytical technologies, with more ways of capturing data and storing it, deciding what and how to use it to enable better business decisions is a growth industry in itself.  Getting cloud and customer engagement strategies right now, will mean your business is ready to adopt the next breakthrough in digital technology when it comes – to move with the time, you need to move with the tech.

What that will be, only a handful of people can say, but it’s exciting to imagine. After all, if 20 years ago you were told most business meetings would be conducted through a video call, or many of us would be walking around with mini-TVs in our pockets or GPS-guided heart rate monitors on our wrists, we would have thought it a work of science fiction rather than digital fact!

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