What is a Digital Business?
Digital is an adjective describing an increasing information intensity and connectedness of physical resources. Resources like facilities, processes, people, teams become digital through the application of technologies that extract information and connect resource and its information to other resources.
Mark McDonald - Managing Director – Accenture Strategy
If a business is born digital it has many advantages not least of which is the absence of the embedded processes that connect the value chain nor does it need to develop and scale them as this will often be redundant due to very low or even zero transaction costs.
For more on this, I invite to listen to this informative talk on how data will transform business:
Transforming an existing business is more complicated, how well do you understand the value chain, are you confident enough to disrupt or devalue it, how quickly can people change those proven ways of doing things? Notice that this complication is not with technology but, your technology team can be ready to enable the change with the right strategic direction.
For any digital service, there are three things which are paramount, Knowledge, Customer and Identity. From a customer perspective, the service must,
Know who I am and what is important to me.
For all the services I use I know what’s going on.
Add value to the sensors and other technology I have.
Enable me to trust the service to only share information that I allow.
Traditional corporate systems are often architected in silos and without the ability to federate or extend beyond the boundaries of the organisation. If your transformation will include the existing systems or at least the data held within them a technology team can prepare to support the business change by considering the following concepts,
Knowledge - If we are simply hosting data and document containing information, how do we deliver actionable information, knowledge? How are we connecting our silos of data to generate knowledge?
Customer - Does the business in terms of its systems have customers or accounts? Do we know who the customer is and what is important to them?
Identity - Can we support many 1000’s of accounts, seamlessly? How do we allow the use of external identity providers to sign up for services?
With these concepts in mind, traditional projects have new strategic importance for example,
Working with your finance team to reduce the need for manual data retrieval and creation of information into reports becomes a lesson in understanding what knowledge your internal customer needs and in turn how our systems can deliver that.
The push from Sales or Marketing for a Customer Relationship Management system is an opportunity to understand how to manage critical information about a customer and build reusable knowledge about what is important to them.
The move of your on-premise email system to something like Microsoft Office 365 is a way to learn how to federate with an external directory and then simplify access for remote workers and contract staff.
Embedding the concepts of Knowledge, Customer and Identity will not make your digital transformation easier but it could mean you are better prepared for it.