The new term that invokes complexity, uncertainty and intrigue to corporate strategy is “digital transformation”. Corporate leaders are burdened with the unavoidable endeavor of embedding technologies into processes across functional areas as the digital age progresses. The term “digital transformation” can take on a number of definitions depending on the person and point of view from which it is described. A high level, generic attempt to providing basic clarity to this phenomenon would involve the following dichotomy: Digital Transformation entails the process of applying the multitude of technologies that are available to commercial entities to augment the speed, effectiveness and precision of existing processes involved in developing, creating, communication and delivering products and services to consumers.
Providing a full detail of this description is beyond the scope of this article as it could entail an entire book to do so. However the next layer of detail to add for further clarity on the topic would be to provide some examples of where and what transformation would entail. The following bullets provide some examples, but there are many more:
- Marketing (one of the more aggressive transformations including both B2C and B2B attributes). B2C leveraging social media, mobile messaging, customer stickiness through Apps, website targeted recommendations and evolving banners, SEO, landing page design)
- B2B (greater descriptive detail of business customers through extracting digital footprint information of businesses on social media platforms and the web, SAAS tracking).
- Customer Service (AI and automation of routine customer queries and smart routing to SME representatives, web self-service, voice and image recognition)
- Supply Chain and Production (Blockchain, GPS tracking for routing and delivering timing, real time feeds of product demand, robot warehousing)
- Product Design (3D Printing, Imbedding sensors in end products to track and augment product functionality and attributes)
- Human Resources (Unstructured mining for recruitment, sensors on employees and work stations, Employee technology touch points)
- Finance (Payment APIs. Smart Contracts, Blockchain, Crytocurrencyl, RegTech compliance and regulation)
- Sales Management (Activity tracking & Contact identification and management/Salesforce.com, SAAS tracking)
Now Add Analytics to the Process
If you find all of this a bit overwhelming, just put yourself in the shoes of a CEO, CIO, or CDO; individuals in a leadership position that have to relate to all of these at the same time. The complexity doesn’t end with the technology side however. In order to pull off a successful transformation, leaders must envision and harness one of the sweet spots to this process and that involves the digital resources that are produced by these technologies and the value that analytics can provide by creating information from these raw digital bits.
Analytics for digital transformation follow many of the well-known roll-outs. This includes standard BI applications (reports, dashboards, visual) for historic and real-time information dissemination, while the demand for the higher end methods of AI and mining to better understand causal drivers and what-if, predictive estimations are growing and highly applicable. The sweet spot to all these approaches is the processing of the new digital resources that describe many more attributes of activities and tactics across functional areas of an organization. Analytics in the digital era include a more detailed description and understanding of common, well-established initiatives and many new ones.
- Analytics for digital transformation involves extracting patterns and creating models to describe and understand:
- Customer utilization of products and services (touching points), digital marketing tactic effectiveness, web and content design effectiveness.
- Creation of data products to augment and bundle existing offerings.
- Better leverage streaming digital resources of sensors for product and process management.
- Manage data feeds to produce real-time visual dashboards for process management.
- Enhance customer touch points through voice and visual identification.
- Creating structured data from unstructured sources for enhanced decision support.
Successful transformation not only sees the adoption of evolving technologies to augment organizational processes but also the digital resource generation capabilities facilitated by these technologies and the value that these resources can add to the strategic mix. Ignoring the data side is like drilling for oil with new technologies without knowing what the commodity can be used for.
Stephan Kudyba is founder of the analytic solutions company, Null Sigma Inc., which focuses on providing strategic analytic solutions for organizations across industry sectors. He is also a professor in the management department at New Jersey Institute of Technology where he teaches courses that address the utilization of IT, advanced quantitative methods, business intelligence, and information and knowledge management to enhance organizational efficiency. He has published seven books and numerous journal and magazine articles on strategic utilization of data, technologies and analytics to enhance organizational productivity and has held management and executive positions in leading organizations. Dr. Kudyba holds an MBA from Lehigh University and PhD in economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.