Pushpak: Hello everyone, welcome to the first episode of our digital transformation podcast series.
My name is Pushpak Parmar. I am working as one of the Business Development Managers at the Digital Transformations division at Softweb Solutions, an Avnet company. I am joined by Zalak Patel today.
Zalak: Hi all, I am Zalak Patel, and I work closely with Pushpak as a Subject Matter Expert in digital transformation unit at Softweb. In this episode, we are going to talk about the need to further digital transformation and why is it significant to act on a digital-first strategy rather than just formulating it.
Pushpak: So, we have got a lot on digital transformation that we can be riffing on, Zalak. As we all know, digital transformation is not a new concept. The need for it has always been there. It’s just that COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for accelerating the pace of the digital shift. And we can see how it has accelerated the adoption curve of digital initiatives almost overnight. Take healthcare. The pandemic gave telehealth the mother of all booster shots. But that’s not all. According to Dell’s Digital Transformation Index 2020, eight in ten enterprises fast-tracked their digital transformation programs in the year 2020.
Initially, several industries were not ready for this once-in-a-generation, massive digital shift. But soon, organizations realized that digital transformation has become more vital than ever. And the abrupt shift to work-from-home sets a good example. We have been dabbling with the concept of remote or hybrid organizations for a couple of decades, especially for certain disciplines. But now, almost every organization has embraced a remote work culture because they were left with no choice but to go digital.
Zalak: Yes, Pushpak, I totally agree with you. Things are changing rapidly. There has been a substantial rise in the adoption of advanced digital tools and technologies. And it is like a radical housecleaning of legacy systems or obsolete technologies to adapt quickly to disruptions.
Consider how retailers have moved rapidly to contactless shopping and delivery, banks into online services, insurers into self-service claim assessment, and healthcare providers into telehealth. We live in a different era of digital transformation that I would like to call it as digital acceleration.
Let us take the instance of the beauty company Avon International. They were following a direct-selling model for the past 130 years to collect orders by cold calling and distributing paper brochures to clients. But when the pandemic hit, this model was pretty much impossible to continue. So, the company had to undergo a rapid digital transformation, and they developed a robust e-commerce platform for sales. They also started distributing digital brochures. Today, 30% of the company’s sales are from online channels. The bottom line is digital transformation has helped the company to change its business model overnight to stay ahead of the competition rising from other companies who were willing to change their methods too. In this sense, the pandemic was like a wake-up call for the company to accelerate its digital transformation journey not by years and decades but by days and months.
Pushpak: Exactly, like you just mentioned in the example, while a business may have countless reasons to undergo digital transformation, in the end, it all boils down to one thing, and that is ‘survival’. It is evident that technology is not a choice but a necessity that must be interlaced with every aspect of a business. We can say that digital technologies play a vital role in determining three things for an organization:
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The first one is rapidly changing customer expectations, followed by time to market pressures and lastly, the ability to adapt quickly to disruptions.
So, putting it simply, the digital mandate is not a new thing. It is just brought into a sharp focus now. Modern enterprises must transform digitally if they want to survive in today’s increasingly competitive environment. This means digital transformation is an absolute must for sustenance. And this shifts the focus on a big question of how organizations can accelerate their digital transformation journey most sustainably and efficiently?
Zalak: Well, that’s a good question, Pushpak. We live in a time of great change and accelerating the digital transformation journey isn’t an overnight thing. It requires organizations to have laid the foundations of technology several years ago. Only then it becomes easier to sail smoothly in the fast-churning waters of digital acceleration.
Say, for example, we at Softweb Solutions also experienced a radical change when we had to shift to the remote work environment in the early phase of the crisis last year. To be honest, going remote was a swift move for us. Being an IT firm, we had already sown the seeds of a digital-first culture a long time ago. So, we were anyways ready for the unexpected change, at least in terms of business continuity.
We all know that change is constant, and it is inevitable in the business world too. Today, modern consumers’ needs, their priorities, their demands, or even their concerns are changing rapidly. So, businesses need to realize that change is essential to succeed and win in the digital age.
Pushpak: Absolutely. And I think businesses can drive digital acceleration by executing business strategies at the earliest opportunity. In recent times, we have observed that delayed execution of the digital transformation strategy can spoil the entire strategy. Ram Charan, the author of the book named ‘Execution: the discipline of getting things done’ has quoted that 70% of strategic failures are due to poor execution.
And I have personally seen many, many companies simply failing to execute their digital transformation strategies beyond the roadmap stage. There are several reasons behind it, but I will talk about the two important ones. The first reason is that such companies let other businesses incur the costs of experimentation, wait for a while and then move ahead as the dust settles. Such an approach of delayed implementation is perilous. It holds these companies to move along the digital maturity curve.
Now, the second reason why digital transformation fails, which I think is ignored far too much, is that companies don’t start the transformation from the top. A key principle to successful strategy execution is to lead the change from the top level to ensure that the leaders and the entire organization are on the same page. And this can be made possible with two things:
- Consistent engagement and
- Effective communication
Zalak: Right. I have seen many businesses struggling as well. So, now that we know the two major reasons behind the failure of digital transformation processes, the focus must be on achieving the results. And of course, it is never too late to catch up. Even if companies are in the initial phase of digital transformation, they can still accelerate their journey. And during this transformational phase, all businesses need to do is to drive the process for the best results and focus on process outcomes rather than blindly running behind whatever is trending at that moment.
Also, I think an organization needs to have a renewed digital strategy and implement it in a more focused way. As a business, you cannot simply adopt another organization’s strategy as each enterprise has its own sets of challenges. I think, as a business, you need to change your strategy that is more versatile and scalable as per your business needs, processes, and infrastructure. And for this, all you need is the right set of tools and the right expertise.
So, putting the entire episode briefly, I would say that the biggest driver of digital transformation would be a transformational vision. With each passing year, the world is getting more and more digital. Since the rise of smartphones and the internet, there has been a continuous shift towards digitization.
Pushpak: Exactly Zalak. I must say, this has been a fascinating conversation. With this, let us end the podcast. We thank all of you for listening in. If you have any questions, any doubts, any comments, you can drop us an email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can email Zalak at email@example.com anytime. We’d be happy to answer your questions. And for more information, helpful resources on technology, you can visit our website at www.softwebsolutions.com.
If you found this conversation insightful, please hit the like button and subscribe to our channel. Join us again soon for our next episode in our Digital Transformation series, where we will talk about the manufacturing domain, which is one of the most difficult industries to digitize. Thank you!