In the year of unthinkable operational changes, what other digital transformations are possible?

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September 2, 2020
Sean Doherty

digital transformation

2020 has been a year of the impossible; six months ago it was unthinkable that most employees would work exclusively from home. This begs the question: what other digital transformations may be possible in your enterprise?

I’ve written previously about how cultural change is a constant in digital transformation programs. Without this change of heart on the part of both leaders and their teams, profound change becomes impossible. But 2020 has been a year of the impossible; six months ago it was unthinkable that most employees would work exclusively from home. This begs the question: what other digital transformations may be possible in your enterprise? 

An imperfect road to transformation

No one is suggesting that the urgent, rushed shift to 100% work-from-home was without challenges. Certain conversations and collaborations are still difficult to achieve remotely, and it's important to be mindful of potential inequities among staff who have spare home-space in which to work (and no childcare challenges), versus those for whom working at home has been an uncomfortable and stressful juggling act.

However, thanks to enabling cloud technologies both on the backend and the front-end in the form of communication and collaboration apps, work-from-home has been implemented successfully by a wide range of enterprises, even those who’d never allowed it, from call centres to government departments. Covid-19 comes during a moment in which, fortunately, cloud tools are available that let organisations weather this abrupt change to home working. Much employee communication has gone straight into apps that live in the cloud, for example, and no longer needs to go straight to the office, to access on-premises systems or data.

But there's a great deal more that can be done. Research shows that enterprises "are just now starting to use cloud to modernise core business apps and processes", says Forrester, who predicted late last year that the combined platform and infrastructure markets would grow a further 30% over 2019 figures to be worth $132.8 billion -- and that prediction was made before Covid.

Finding opportunities for transformation

As Forrester notes, the real opportunity is in digital transformation, using cloud to modernise those processes at the very heart of the enterprise. That stretches right across the organisation, from IT to human resources to finance to customer service.

The real opportunity is in digital transformation, using cloud to modernise those processes at the very heart of the enterprise. That stretches right across the organisation, from IT to human resources to finance to customer service.

The focus and the opportunity here is around automation and AI, using digital tools to accelerate the business, remove paper and manual processes and cut costs. For example, do all your IT helpdesk queries really need to be a phone call? The use of intelligent AI chat bots can offer a very acceptable user experience and quick resolution of issues.

What about day-to-day processes in your accounts payable department? Enterprises who have outsourced the manual business of checking thousands of incoming invoices against purchase orders may find it's more effective to modernise and automate the underlying process, rather than outsource the manual one. Intelligent invoice matching utilities make it dramatically faster to process incoming invoices accurately and quickly.

By seizing the power and the speed of the cloud, an acceleration and a seamlessness can be achieved across the organisation: using slick, user-friendly onboarding tools, example, to welcome new hires instead of requiring them to open attached PDFs or review a contract in Microsoft Word. And consider how a fully digital experience in retail could accelerate the experience for customers: for big-ticket items in particular, credit checks can be done in real time using cloud tools, making it faster and easier to organise finance, close the sale and let customers get on with their day.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digital transformation. For more food for thought, especially in the area of automation, see how large industries can embrace innovations like autonomous vehicles, virtual reality and machine-to-machine communications to work more efficiently, and to achieve new flexibility.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that staying flexible is essential, whatever size your enterprise.

For more information on how CKH IOD works with enterprises, explore our Enterprise Services.