From x to 10X: How technology empowers
Even when offices remained shut and in-person meetings became impossible, technology quickly enabled businesses to continue operations with the same, if not better, productivity. There is no doubt that technology creates significant business value.
At an enterprise level, digital transformation is estimated to attract investments to the tune of $2.8 Trillion by 2025 (Statista). This is almost thrice the investment that the sector attracted in 2017 (0.96 Billion).
Spending on digital transformation technologies and services worldwide from 2017 to 2025 (in trillion U.S. dollars)
However, despite having cutting-edge technology at their disposal, not every organization is able to grow.
Industries and their use of technology
The primary objective of technology is to make a difficult task or process easier to complete. In most industries, it takes the form of a tool that all stakeholders can uniformly use to amplify their productivity. However, since no industry is alike, technology applications also take different avatars. Here is how some industries that touch our daily lives use technology.
Finance & capital markets
From facilitating real-time capital asset transactions to making retail banking services available on smartphones, technology enables finance and capital markets in several ways. Thanks to the growth of Robotic Process Automation, banking and insurance companies are now able to automate a large chunk of their manual operations that otherwise demand recruiting an army of human agents.
In fact, ‘fintech’ was a term that hardly existed a decade ago. But today it is a global market with a deemed 40 Billion investment. The BFSI (Banking, Financial Service, and Insurance) industry as a whole is partnering with IT firms to build fintech applications that will help access new markets and provide customers with novel products and services.
Healthcare is a sensitive industry since it deals with vital data about human health. However, the demand and supply between healthcare services and public needs also widened dramatically during the pandemic. This has led to a significant growth in telehealth and mHealth applications that allow doctors and patients to connect remotely and find resolutions to health complications. With the widespread adoption that the pandemic has provided, the mHealth sector is expected to touch 23 Billion market size by 2027.
Manufacturing has undergone a tremendous transformation thanks to technology. Products are no longer hand-made, production velocity has increased manifold, and machines have taken the place of humans where precision is required and safety is a concern. 3D printing is also one technology that is gaining popularity in the manufacturing space.
Two decades ago, landlines were available only to a small population of the global market. Today, the number of mobile devices easily outpaces the global population. Communication technologies like 3G, 4G, 5G, and LTE have also progressed significantly. Video communication has become a staple tool for organizations that have distributed workforces. Real-time chat messages and collaboration tools have also grown in capabilities thanks to the growth in communication technologies.
Core technologies driving digital transformation
According to TechTarget, “Digital transformation is the incorporation of computer-based technologies into an organization’s products, processes, and strategies.” These computer-based technologies of various types offer unique advantages when combined to form a technology mix.
The introduction of the assembly line by Henry Ford made ‘automation’ a common term. Automation is far more accurate, requires minimal human intervention for managing large complex processes, and ensures that errors are negligible.
Modern-day automated systems largely take the shape of software programs that trigger sub-tasks or activities. These rule-based systems allow organizations to create their own customized processes that work independently.
Case study: Xerox moves from documents to digitization with automation
For decades, Xerox has remained synonymous with physical document processing and transformation. With time the volume of transactions that Xerox handles has also surged. With RPA, Xerox was able to automate its document understanding process thus eliminating the need for manual data entry process. It also resulted in a drastic reduction of resource deployment for manual tasks from 70 to 2.5 hours each week.
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services consisting of servers, databases, networking, software, analytics, and data through the internet. For end-users, it offers on-demand availability of storage space or computing power without requiring active management of them. Cloud computing is considered to be an accelerator of digital transformation as it allows enterprises to grow at a sustainable rate without restricting their capacity or spending huge amounts of working capital on resources.
Success story: Adobe reinvents itself as a cloud company
Adobe is the frontrunner in publishing and design tools. The company has reaped massive benefits like a triple-fold growth in its stock price, a 50% growth in recurring revenue, and a huge increase in subscribing customers. Adobe no longer sells its software through CD discs or downloadable software. It is also a SAAS application that has become the staple for businesses worldwide.
The modern workplace is a virtual one made up of on-site employees and remote employees. To synchronize all their activities, wherever they are, mobility systems are required. Mobility usually takes the form of web and mobile applications that users can access from any laptop, mobile, or tablet device. This allows for flexibility and adaptability as work is no longer restricted to workstations at the office.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Research on Artificial Intelligence commenced in the early 1950s. However, it is only during the past decade that AI has become a force to reckon with.
The nosedive in commodity hardware prices and the explosion of data creation has led to the resurgence of AI. AI has countless applications and is touted as a huge multiplier of automation.
Case study: Netflix uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to drive user engagement
Netflix is a content wormhole. As of the first quarter of 2022, it had a whopping 221.64 million subscribers and continues to grow its user base with great momentum. To keep its user base constantly engaged, the video streaming platform uses a variety of AI and ML applications that perform a plethora of operations ranging from giving content suggestions to users as well as deciding which in-house CDN should be used for streaming content. Furthermore, AI and ML also empowers Netflix to power its advertising spend, channel mix, and advertising creative that ultimately drives user engagement and acquisition.
Benefits of infusing technology into business operations
Although the benefits of technology need no introduction, there are organizations that still stick to the old way of doing things. The comfort, the fear of the unknown, risks involved, change management — there are countless reasons why organizations shy away from leveraging technology.
However, for those who make the leap, the benefits can be classified into three categories:
|Strategic advantages||Financial advantages||Operational advantages|
|Positions the business as a futuristic enterpriseProvides flexibility to meet changing customers’ preferencesImproves competitiveness as new markets can be accessedReduces time required to take products to the marketGives data insights that can be used for improving positioning||Increases revenue by giving access to newer marketsIdentifies cost centers that can be optimized for cost savingsReduces wastage by limiting errors and redundancies||Provides access to global talent poolHelps employees collaborate better and accomplish results fasterHelps conduct operations at scale through automationEmpowers employees to serve customers better|
When does technology adoption go wrong?
Technology is not a silver bullet for all organizational problems. Of course, it has solutions to most challenges, but to adopt technology successfully, businesses must steer clear of some of the common mistakes that inevitably lead to failure.
Lacking a long-term perspective
What should technology do for the business in 3 years, 5 years, or 10 years from now? What bigger organizational goal should it facilitate? Answering these two questions will map out the long-term perspective of the business. Without that perspective, the business will end up choosing technologies that are popular or trending, but might fail to serve the business in the long run.
Fumbling with change management
For employees in any organization belonging to any industry, a change in the way things are currently done can be a nightmare. Although everybody wants and supports change, being at the receiving end of change is not always pleasant. Hence, while introducing new technology to the organization, it is necessary to have a proper change management plan in place.
The plan should detail how employees will be made aware of the technology, the intent behind adopting it, the benefits that will accrue from the adoption, and how they can contribute to a smooth implementation.
Failure to setup processes
Traditionally, the world has been trained to believe that goal-setting is a sure-fire strategy for success. However, processes are bigger than goals. Processes give structure and shape to do any complicated task. They ensure that vital checkpoints are taken care of before proceeding to the next step. As a result, the goal is achieved faster and with minimal errors.
Taking the DIY approach
Unlike most software installation procedures, infusing technology at an organizational level calls for detailed planning, having the right resources, and expertise. There are specific IT consulting companies that provide enterprises with consulting services, managed services, offshore development, and centers of excellence. These external services ensure that the organization can attain its digital goals without trying to do it all by itself.
Forgetting to evaluate
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” If an organization fails to evaluate the adoption rate, benefits or the risks associated with a new technology, they may continue to invest in technologies that are not providing effective results. Eventually, this would cause severe loss of resources, both financial and manpower.
How to leverage technology the right way for growth
Technology is a great multiplier. However, to get the best results, it is necessary to know which technology to use, when, and where. The organization must also be mature enough to use the technology in an effective way. All said, leveraging technology the right way is essential for growth. Here are some pointers that will aid in that.
Gauge your digital maturity
Digital maturity is the ability of an organization to create value through digital technologies. It is necessary to understand the level of digital maturity before any digital initiatives can be launched. Implementing digital initiatives that are not aligned to the current digital maturity could lead to an imbalance — either too much of activities that cannot be managed or too few efforts that do not give results at scale.
Include an expert
Not every organization has the inherent capabilities or know-how to implement technology. Most often, experts provide the necessary know-how as well as the resources to implement and scale digital initiatives.
Choose the right technology mix
AI. Cloud. Automation. Mobility. Each of these core technologies have countless platforms and technologies, with a choice of programming languages that can make a difference to the final product. Without the right technology mix, you will have a clutter of parts that may not work together, or worst work in silos thereby defeating the very objective of improving productivity through technology.
In a nutshell – Technology as a lever for accelerated growth
Technology can turn around profits for a business. It can introduce new revenue streams, eliminate redundancies, and give data-driven insights. With a proper strategy, internal or external expertise, and with the power of analytics, technology can become a strategic differentiator for any organization.