Digital in the enterprise

The world is such a fast-moving place in modern times that even the strongest businesses can often find themselves scrambling to tackle new technologies and digital trends which turn their industries upside-down.

Like ‘innovation’, ‘digital’ has become a watchword which many enterprises aim to achieve, yet struggle to obtain. But what does digital even mean, when applied to the enterprise? The term on its own is so wide ranging that it can be difficult to understand where to start or what success means.

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Digital transformation has become the all-encompassing term for enterprises. The branches of the digital revolution now reach into every area of life, and any industry. That tree will continue to grow, so it is important for businesses to make sure they’re climbing before they realise they’re still on the ground while competitors are in the canopies.

Digital talent is just the beginning

Companies are certainly making their moves to recruit the talent to move their digital transformation journey forward. Recent research found that 8 out of 10 companies in the UK are recruiting for digital transformation, nearly a third of CFOs are adding new positions to implement digitisation efforts, and more than half of finance executives plan to hire interim and temporary staff to help manage change.

This is just a beginning. Recruiting the right talent opens the door; the real challenge is bringing all of the employees, technologically savvy or not, along in the journey too.

Digital transformation begins, at its heart, in two areas – product (external) and process (internal).

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On the product side, R&D departments are working overtime to push their companies’ products further and further into the digital age. Whether it’s big banks, record labels, retail, manufacturing or another industry, heritage market leaders understand that we are now in a world of disruption and disruptors. There’s no place for those resting on their laurels, as they will soon be exposed and surpassed.

While the technological revolution has created a business environment which is disruptive, it is also concurrently stacked full of opportunity. The best companies will transform their product portfolio to remain relevant in our digital future. Those who don’t will soon go the way of the minidisc player.

Experiences, not products

Product, in itself, is fast becoming an antiquated term. Nowadays, companies talk in terms of customer experience and services. Single transactions are being swapped for ongoing subscriptions; digital connections are now prevalent over physical things.

In music, for example, digital sales have now overtaken physical sales for the first time, driven by streaming subscription services such as Apple Music or Spotify.

Subscription television is also going from strength to strength. A report by Nielsen in March 2016 found that nearly 70% of Brits pay for a subscription to watch TV or video-on-demand.

>See also: The continuous enterprise in a fast paced world

It’s an interesting statistic, but more interesting is the digital lengths which pay TV and subscription services go to, to differentiate themselves and provide an improved customer experience. For Sky TV, it might be the Spidercam, for BT TV, it might be Ultra HD or software-based broadcasting.

In music streaming, for every Spotify partnership with Tinder, there’s an Apple Music integrated speaker for the home.

AR and VR technology

Technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have also provided disruptive opportunities for enterprises, both established and new, to shake up any number of industries.

Evidential is one such case in point. The Manchester-based start-up is using VR to revolutionise the legal industry, by recreating virtual crime scenes to better visualise crime scenes for juries so that they can make more informed decisions.

This is something of a second-coming for VR. Despite VR in the modern sense not being formally identified until the late 1980s, pioneering headsets were first created as early as 1960. In the early 1990s, gaming companies introduced VR technology to the masses – which gained some traction without ever making waves among consumers.

Today, the technology has come on in leaps and bounds and, according to predictions made by PwC, will be one of the fastest growing areas of the entertainment and media industry from 2016-2021.

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Popular support for AR appears to have gone slightly quiet since Pokemon Go gave the technology its 15 minutes in the sunshine in summer 2016. The smash hit game, which superimposes animals from the Japanese franchise onto real-world locations for players to search out and capture, caused a storm last year, taking more money than some summer blockbuster movies.

The game’s success showed how enterprises can harness AR in their product development to achieve incredible results. Notably, brands have also found ways to use AR and VR in areas such as marketing and advertising to provide a more interactive, entertaining method of targeting and engaging potential customers.

Innovative examples include the telephone-style booths created by Marriott Hotels for customers to experience a holiday before they buy, or Jim Beam’s VR ride through the distillery process from the point of view of the whiskey itself.

Outside of those areas, however, the technology has sometimes appeared gimmicky and businesses have struggled to find consistent, ongoing cut through with AR.

Digital processes changing workplaces

When it comes to products, it appears that we may still require a revolution or two before the true advantages of AR and VR are realised. More interesting for enterprises is how these technologies, and others, are affecting the way that we do work.

The rise in flexible working has come hand-in-hand with technologies that allow for greater connectivity and movement. Digital transformation is forming the bedrock of this new trend in employee behaviour.

Technology is reforming the workplace and providing employees with greater choices than ever before. It might be the use of mobile, remote access to shared folders in the cloud, or ways in which VR and AR create more inventive ways to collaborate across great distances.

>See also: 95% of large companies woefully unprepared for ‘digital business’

Plus, developers, device manufacturers and enterprises are looking at areas in which technology such as VR can provide a positive change. While offices still provide a valuable hub of ideas, productivity and identity, using technology to work from home on a flexible basis is both creating a happier workforce, as well as saving enterprises valuable cash.

The digital workplace

The digital workplace is making differences across the whole breadth of enterprise. In the recruitment process, video interviews are now becoming commonplace, particularly as human resource departments cast their net further afield for talent.

Of course, there’s more work to be done in developing these processes. Webcam interviews haven’t always garnered the most positive of reactions from observers, yet as technology advances, becoming more readily available for interviewer and interviewee alike, these sorts of innovations are set to continue.

While recruitment processes change, technology is also having a huge effect on the roles that enterprises are recruiting for. Artificial intelligence and automation, once the reserve of scaremongering sci-fi films (think 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner or Terminator 2), is going through a rebrand. Today, those robotic technologies are creating jobs rather than replacing them.

The relationship between robots and their humans has, to date, been quite a smooth one. Tech leaders, such as IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, foresee a future where technology does the manual roles that humans don’t want to do, while those humans continue to manage the processes. Research is also showing that the likes of AI and automation are set to vastly improve the fortunes of enterprises.

>See also: Digital platforms emerging as a critical business building block – Gartner

A ServiceNow report this summer found that highly automated companies are six times more likely to experience revenue growth of 15%+ in 2018 than those which are not. With automated processes, businesses can focus their mental energies on more creative areas without becoming bogged down in preventative workloads. Automation is also becoming a necessity for growing networks which are more demanding of capacity and data management.

The benefits of artificial intelligence are also estimated to have a huge positive impact on enterprises. The UK government predicts the UK economy could benefit by up to £654 billion by the year 2035 through AI, with engineering, administration and customer service all set to be improved by better, faster processes. Machine-learning will mean constant improvement, too.

Digital compliance

As shown, many areas of business have been fully (or at least partially) digitised, but compliance remains curiously untouched by digitisation for many firms.

The digital future

There’s plenty to be positive about when it comes to the digital future of the enterprise. Whether it’s the market stall that now takes contactless credit card, or the manufacturing plant developing new automated processes which improve productivity and open up new roles, digital is improving the lives of employees and their customers constantly. New products are creating new experiences for consumers, while improved processes are changing the workplace for the better.

Understanding the intricacies of digital transformation is the challenge faced by enterprises. But if businesses can harness the right talent, technology and strategy, they’ll tackle that challenge head on. We have an incredibly exciting digital future ahead of us.


Sourced by Takahiro Sato, president at Kyocera Document Solutions Europe


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...