So,every organization and their sales guy is pitching you about the wave of digital transformation,that is essential to your organization to be ready for future. It is a must a do for cxo and their architects, if their business has to stay agile and thus relevant.
Quite true,isn’t it? There is indeed a great sense is taking all your process online, enhancing your digital presence,offer deeper engagement to your end users and grow your business.Excpet that under the noise of these right sentences lies a misuse,overuse and confusion of the underlying terms. Which ,if true,can lead to different path than intended.
The fact that businesses need to go online,i.e. be present on the same electronic plane that their customers exist and then offer interactions on the electronic plane is something that we all came to realize with the dot com era. A business should rightfully move in sync with their customers likings. This used to be called,for a long time , e-everything. E as in electronic. We had e-commerce,e-payments,e-medicine and so on,overlapping with its twin buzz words, web as in website and online as in online store. What this wave started was indeed a digital view of the world except that for most part ,it was conversion of existing paper based,human facilitated way of doing business. Ofcourse it had resulted in gains by sheer virtue of the expansion of reach it produced.
Digital transformation wave on the contrast is about expansion of the depth . The depth to which end-user can interact with a business and everything around it.
Genesis of digital transformation
Human mind is a double edged sword. At one end it can offer rich contextual insights about everything that ,computers are still struggling to match.At other end it can create huge roadblocks due to the linearity with which it sees the world.Imagine a loan application,while you are filling up the forms, can one parallelly start estimating your loan worth ?, can it eliminate your need to sign at multiple places or your need to photo copy and attach supporting documents. We need to also consider that the process of application is designed with average human being in mind,on both sides of the interaction,mind you;so we introduced, a sequentially to the process.
It is this human intervention both apparent as well as embedded that the digital transformation wave intends to eliminate.Eliminate sothat ,the depth to which the end-user can interact with business is enhanced by order of magnitude.It is apt to call this process as digitization.Digitization of all human intervention, obvious as well as implicit so that the interaction process is as below
Charetiristics of useful digital transformation
1.Instant :Instant as in immediate .Because we eliminate the human aspect of service ,we also eliminate queue nature of our business interaction.This is not same as number of simultaneous users but the ability of the system to react immediately and lead the user to the next logical step or even fulfilment of the process itself.
2.Always on:Always on is not the traditional availability,which is a service indicator that is essential to digital business .But if say ,your payment is waiting for payment network to be on or your application is waiting for an approver and appraiser to process it is not Always on.
3.Resumable : Tought we enable to business process to always on and instant , the same constraint does not apply to the end user .This calls for a resumability of the business process at a later point . Resumability is not a mere memory of users unfinished actions but also updating those actions for the business context that might have changed in the (larger) time lapse that might have occurred .
4. Simplified :As we digitize the actors and process in our system ,it also allows us to eliminate many constrains thus allowing us to simplify the whole user experience in our process . However simplification is not a call for giving up prudence ,but to shift it to a later phase or in background so that the regular flow in the system is far more short,easy and clear.This might even call for coordination between diff systems for this . A case in point is use of precomputed credit score to allow on demand consumer loan.
5.Parallelized : Removal of human view of the business opens up many opportunities to parallelize the tasks in the process so as to shorten as well as smoothen the overall journey .
6.Inferential: As we digitize diff aspects of our business , we also enable addresability of all these entities .This allows us to infer lots of data points,decision making,exception in our system to everyones benifit .An easy example is use of QR code or face recognition or even user segment to accelerate overall process .
Whereas,simplified is often misquoted as frictionless and Inferential is often mis-understood as big data analytics.
It is also important to stress that the earlier attempt of e-fication has sometime resulted in partial achievement of above goals.But due to generational nature of transformation waves,it often merely converted existing process in electronic forms.Case in point,tough e-payments was established early on,it took long time to allow e-cheques inside the system. Where as the main aim of digitization should have been ti eliminate the need of cheques as means of payment as well as legal record.
What then becomes obvious is that digital transformation will need lots of effort to question the business practices , to re imagine the world in digitized manner, and then do it ie digitally transform.For which,most often, that CMS platform,MbaaS suite,service gateway and so on,is not a pre condition.It might ,at max be, an eventual fitment.