Digitalization can barely be called a new trend, since for the latest 5 years more and more companies performed such transformations, implemented new technologies and automated numerous processes. But digital acceleration sounds like something new. And it is indeed one of the latest trends named by Gartner that will enter the business sphere for the upcoming years.
But what boosted the need to accelerate digital business initiatives and what differs this trend from a usual digital transformation? The crisis of 2020, pandemic and the necessity to make fast and effective decisions that will not harm your company – all these reasons made businesses reconsider their strategies and approaches.
By 2022, 70% of all organizations will have accelerated use of digital technologies, transforming existing business processes to drive customer engagement, employee productivity, and business resiliency.
Worldwide Digital Transformation Predictions by IDC
Digital acceleration is about business safety, productivity and better-informed data-driven decisions. Although the 2021 crisis is seen as a negative factor, it let’s businesses achieve growth and consider implementation of something even more innovative than they had.
So in this article we will share with you what digital business acceleration means, what advantages it offers, and what steps you should take first.
What is digital business acceleration?
The pandemic changed everything starting with our lives and economy and ending with the business rules. If previously the struggle was about overcoming the competitors and optimizing processes, now it is about keeping up with a rapidly changing business environment.
Old ways will not open new doors, that is why companies need to act fast and accelerate digital initiatives instead of relying on what they already have. Digital business acceleration is a process of adopting new technologies at an accelerated rate.
To clear everything up, let’s take an example. When one country after another declared lockdown, many businesses related to sales and customer service faced hard times. People could not visit clothing or furniture stores anymore. And if they needed to buy something they looked for a store’s website or an app.
And that’s not all. The companies that faced an influx of customer queries understood how unprepared they were for this new business model. It was hard to take calls or reply on time, there were delays in delivery, the inventory management was chaotic and messy.
But would this happen if such companies had chatbots, smart systems for inventory management, or reliable solutions with customer tips for better remote service? Probably not. Moreover, if the companies had advanced cloud-based inventory management systems, they would have been able to take even more orders and offer better and faster delivery.
It would be incorrect if we’d said that cloud-based systems and chatbots are a new technology. Many businesses such as call centers, travel agencies, healthcare institutions, ticket and apartments booking agencies and many more companies have been using them for years.
So digital business acceleration is not about totally new technologies, it’s about overall automation and increase of the number of technologies that are used in a company. Gartner explored the priorities of business CEOs for the upcoming 2 years and discovered that among the leading ones are company growth and technology implementation.
Image source: Gartner
What steps should you follow?
It all starts with refusal from legacy things that are dragging your business back. So if your company still uses old hardware and software, it is the right time to replace it with a newer and more effective one. Other changes will follow this procedure. You will need to think about processes optimization and effective business management.
There are certain steps following which you can achieve drastic results and accelerate digital business initiatives in your company. So let’s take a closer look at all of them and discover what you should do and who can help you.
Analyze if your software is effective enough
You need to stop looking at the achievements of the past years, because 2020 brought a lot of changes, and nothing will be the same. So while looking at your software, think about its current performance and real benefits. Ask yourself a couple of crucial questions:
- Does my business software automate the processes enough?
- Is it really useful and helps to create a smart environment in my company?
- Can it be improved to offer a better solution for productivity issues?
- Does my software unload the employees or it makes them spend additional time on figuring out how to do this or that thing?
- What software is used by my competitors and do I need something of a kind?
After you’ve analyzed all your current solutions, take a piece of paper and write down the number of points (on a scale from 1 to 5) you would give your business for the digital advancement. And then proceed to the next step.
Track your real business efficiency
Only real performance indexes can help you understand how your company is doing at the moment and what’s your ROI. So what you really need is a solution able to provide you with holistic feedback and reports regarding the performance of your departments.
To have a CRM and ERP (even advanced ones) is not enough. Digital acceleration implies the presence of additional productivity measuring tools like performance review software. To understand where you should direct all your efforts, you need to see a whole picture with all feedbacks and reports. And this is possible only if you have a range of interconnected solutions.
For example, with new smart management systems you can collect the data related not only to your clients (their preferences, contact information, etc.), but also to the productivity of your employees and your costs. Everything can be collected and stored in one place. Moreover, smart business management tools can process loads of information and provide you with advanced reports based on real numbers and not some assumptions.
What performance review will let you achieve in the future? First of all, you will be able to create individual development plans for your employees. Secondly, you will make data-driven decisions faster. This can lead to business scaling, productivity and income growth. But to scale your business effectively, the solutions should be custom-made. Only they can be fully adapted to your business processes and expand in functionality as your company grows.
So before proceeding to the next step, take a minute and evaluate your current way of estimating your business performance (on a scale from 1 to 5). Do you have any software to track and count crucial indexes for you or your employees are still involved in a lot of paperwork?
Make sure everything works autonomously
When it comes to digital transformation, some companies prefer to try out ready-made solutions. It is understandable, because this approach saves you time and money. But should you rely on some general tools so much? Are they really effective enough in a modern world where everything changes daily?
One crucial disadvantage of all ready-made solutions is that they are not customizable enough. So your work processes will depend on the software and it should not be this way. The software should be fully adapted to your business needs, goals and processes. It should scale alongside with your company and create no additional challenges.
Digital transformation at an accelerated rate implies that you will use technology to automate processes to the fullest. But only custom software is able to offer you this. It is made keeping your specific business processes in mind. And you do not have to make huge additional investments in it in the future.
Let’s take a system that you buy from a third-party provider. You will depend on that provider and the conditions he offers. If you forget to pay for a subscription, your processes may be stuck for some time, because the system will stop functioning until you make payment. Or if your system has way too many third-party integrations, you may end up without having some functionality. After all, providers can change policies, conditions, etc. and the system will require additional testing or there will be some compatibility issues.
By using ready-made solutions you become dependent on their provider. And this is not about accelerated digital transformation. This trend is about autonomy. You need a solution that can be used anywhere and anytime, that will not fail you at the most unexpected moment.
Custom software can become your huge competitive advantage and major productivity tool. Here are some key benefits of custom solutions that ensure autonomous work:
- They are more secure. You can stop worrying about your data safety if you are using a custom solution where everything is protected, there are different levels of access and you control the data.
- They are original. Some business processes require custom features that no other ready may solution will offer.
- They are highly customizable. You do not need to spend hours on figuring out the options. Moreover, you can set everything just like you need it to work.
- They are scalable. As your company grows the solutions need to improve and cover all your business needs.
So if you’ve decided to embrace digital acceleration, then the first thing you should do is to check how many solutions are actually used by your company now and whether they all are ready-made. If more than a half of all your programs and systems are purchased, then it is time to replace them with your own business management and productivity tools.
And continuing our survey, try to evaluate your current business autonomy on a scale from 1 to 5. Where 1 would mean that you are mostly use ready-made solutions and 5 – you are equipped with the custom software.
Our team regularly performs digital transformations for various businesses and develops custom business management tools. Recently we have completed one advanced project called LEO – a construction management system. It was built for the company called Nelson Precast that experiences major productivity issues and for 10 years tried to resolve them using ready-made solutions.
This construction company is involved in production of custom pieces and they manage dozens of processes on a daily basis. So no wonder, that there was no great ready-made app able to improve their workflow. Many businesses, not only the ones dealing with construction, face the same issue. They invest lots of money in half-suitable solutions, when what they really need is their own software.
So we’ve developed such custom solution called LEO that managed to:
- reduce the workload on employees;
- automate estimation and tracking progress;
- measure actual labor and materials and avoid miscalculations;
- make scheduling and quality assurance much faster easier.
Here is a screenshot of the LEO construction management system, so that you can take a look at it and understand how many options are actually included and how many processes you can control via one custom solution.
LEO includes numerous options among which you’ll find PDF editor for making changes to drafts whenever it’s needed, advanced search for construction pieces, convenient project planning, production overview, tools for job management and many more. The selection of options was driven by the needs and goals of this particular business. And that is why ready-made solutions never worked for Nelson Precast. They could not fully adapt to their business model and workflow, and they did not let Nelson Precast technicians perform crucial customization.
The case study describing LEO project in detail is going to be added to our portfolio very soon, so stay tuned and make sure you check it out. It is really worth your attention.
Take care of smart business environment
When we say smart business environment we imply active use of Internet of Things technology. It has never been in such a huge demand as it is now. So what actually boosted the popularity of IoT and why every company needs to make use of it?
First of all it is a transfer to remote work. Of course this is only a temporary measure because of the pandemic, and yet we do not now for how long our remote work will continue. And there is a need to make it productive and profitable. The second factor is introduction of 5G that will work to the advantage of all IoT devices. The speed of the connection will be better, there will be a support of multiple devices and the network will become more reliable.
So now is the perfect time to initiate IoT implementation for your business. Starting with smart tech like thermostats, printers, locks and many more, and ending with intelligent lightning, meeting room systems or else – all these innovations can transform the way your employees work and lead to better productivity.
IoT offers numerous new business opportunities and competitive advantage. You can make your staff more involved in the working processes because all side things will be managed by the devices. Why waste employees energy and time on something that can be done in a single click and forgotten about for the rest of the day?
So our question is – How smart is your office now? Would you give your current environment and smart devices 1 or 5 points?
You may not have heard about this trend (also offered by Gartner), but you definitely aware of its key technologies. Hyperautomations is about creating a digital twin of your company and automating its processes to the fullest. This can be achieved thanks to such high technologies as AI, Machine learning, Internet of Things, Robotics and various intelligent business management software.
The usage of all technologies mentioned above allows the company to achieve better flexibility, speed, scalability, improve personalization level and make decision making more data-driven. So it seems like both hyperautomation and digital acceleration work for one global purpose – boosting your business through the use of various smart solutions.
Therefore both of the named Gartner trends are interconnected. And if you consider accelerating digital business initiatives, you should also pay attention to the most popular and widely used forms of technologies that hyperautomation deals with.
Although the technologies that hyperautomation trend offers to implements are quite costly, some of the leading businesses already use them. And speaking about your company, would your consider it to be digital enough? On a scale from 1 to 5, what number of points will you give it?
Сonsider migration to cloud platforms
These days many businesses move their data and processes to the cloud services. CTOs and CIOs of large and medium-size companies believe that cloud-based work approach allows to innovate business faster, expand capabilities, minimize risks and perform business scaling more effectively.
Many companies that perform digital transformation but pay no attention to the opportunities that cloud migration offers, end up being not so productive as they’ve expected. Cloud platforms let your solutions function faster at the decreased costs. They are also able to bring a vast value to your business since they improve agility, resilience and data control.
Here are some major benefits of cloud migration that you need to know about:
- Faster time to market. Compared to companies that do not work with cloud and do not benefit from end-to-end automation, you will get a major competitive advantage. With automated cloud platforms it is possible to release fresh capabilities each day, check what works and what does not faster, and respond to the market demand on time.
- Lower risks. Cloud platforms considered to be safer than any on-premise services. Their security level is advanced and they let you recover the crucial data much faster which is important in case of technical emergency.
- Better upgrade options. With cloud you can upgrade not only your whole system (and stop some working processes for a while) but you can also upgrade some specific solutions independently. Such flexibility lets you adapt to rapidly changing demands and needs.
There are several strategies of cloud migration that can be used by businesses with different goals and needs. Here is a picture explaining each of the key strategies in a graphical way.
Apart from the mentioned strategies, you may consider implementing SaaS or iPaaS for ensuring better productivity, scalability, optimization of the decision-making process, higher security level and support of low-code development alongside with easier change of architectural and licensing models in your company.
These days it is not enough to use solutions that were effective last year. The business environment changes and it demands new, more advanced and smart solutions. The 2021 tech trends described by Gartner demonstrate that business world needs more smart digital tools.
The priorities have shifted and now companies strive to automate everything to the fullest and even create a digital twin of their business. This is a reasonable approach taking into account the crisis, the pandemic and transfer to remote work (for an unknown amount of time).
So speaking about your actions, you need to consider accelerating digital business transformation to be one step ahead of all your competitors. When you were reading this article, you’ve faced a survey we’ve offered you to complete. You needed to evaluate how digitalized your company is now. So if your average number of points put together is 5-15, this means you need to take some actions.
Where should you start? Probably the first thing you need to do is review your current business processes, understand how effective they are and what tools you lack.
Think about new strategy and new solutions that can help you achieve better results and bigger income. Take into account the technology trends like cloud migration, IoT, hyperautomation and choose custom solutions instead of ready-made ones. By investing in the development, you are investing in the future of your business. The software and digital transformation always pay themselves off.