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Digital Transformation, Part 7: The Outlook

The imminence of digital transformation makes it imperative for all businesses to start or accelerate the process.

Imagine that it is now 2020.  A driverless car pulls up to your driveway at 5 PM, exactly the time for which you had booked it.  You grab your phone and head out, the lights and appliances in your home turning off behind you automatically as you step out the door.  Once you've buckled yourself in, a message is sent to your girlfriend to let her know that you’ll arrive to pick her up in precisely 17 minutes. 

As the two of you near the theater, the GPS reroutes the car to avoid a traffic accident nearby and directs you to your final destination: the least expensive parking garage within a half-mile radius of the equestrian show venue.

In no time, you’re seated in the stands with your phone in hand, totally immersed in each rider’s performance.  You can’t imagine how people used to watch sports without having real-time access to stats and without the option to watch the race from the rider’s POV.  But your favorite part comes at the end of the performance: rating the riders yourself and seeing how your scoring compares to that of the judges.

All of the technologies in this scenario already exist.  In fact, digitized equestrian shows are already a reality with CHIO Aachen.  Find out more in this video.

Like it or not, some of our private life experiences may be “enhanced” as well – see the example below:



The importance of digital transformation

Again, why is digital transformation important?  As Nicholas Negroponte put it, “Computing is not about computers anymore.  It is about living.” 

Without a doubt, technology will play an ever-increasing role in our lives.  The growing Internet of Things will be ubiquitous, tying our lives closer to technology.  It will no longer be an option to be digitally clueless; businesses that lose customers because of poor communication will not survive.  People and therefore customers are changing; businesses need to change with them.

The imminence of digital transformation makes it imperative for all businesses to start or accelerate the process.  Luckily, the four building blocks (see Digital Transformation, Part 2: the Building Blocks) are here to help: the cloud, mobile, networks, and data.  Equipped with these technologies, businesses can unlock new capabilities like greater efficiency, instant data analysis, and better collaboration.  Ultimately, businesses will have the necessary platform to support and cultivate innovation.

It is up to the business itself to push for the real transformation; simply putting everything on the cloud and providing everyone with phones and tablets is not enough.

It is up to the business itself to push for the real transformation; simply putting everything on the cloud and providing everyone with phones and tablets is not enough.  While such measures can indeed bring some improvements, you can be sure that in the meantime, other businesses will be getting ahead with true digital transformations.  

Undergoing digital transformation keeps businesses modern, improves the customer experience, and enables better collaboration and empowerment of the workforce.  Automation also boosts efficiency and data analysis unveils valuable insights from patterns and even allows for predictive action.

But the path to digital transformation won’t come without challenges.  Certain jobs will become obsolete, so businesses need to act accordingly and upskill their employees.  Another struggle is the variability of digital proficiency – not everyone will be so eager to jump on the digital bandwagon.  Leaders will also have to grapple with the negative side of technology.  Greater sharing and data collection, as well as using solutions from other businesses, may lead to privacy or security concerns.  When dealing with these challenges, businesses must keep their end goal in mind: a dramatic, transformational change to solve new or existing problems in the best way.

Nonetheless, businesses with strong leadership driving digital transformation can adopt the vision, culture, business processes, and technological investments they need.  Strong leadership is not singular to any one industry or type of business.  While certain industries have a greater digital aptitude than others, digitally mature businesses are found within every industry.

Concluding remarks

Be a disruptor, not the disrupted.  Don’t fall prey to the “Innovator’s Dilemma.”  This concept from Professor Clayton Christensen (explained in this video) describes the phenomenon when established companies are disrupted by newcomers.  By focusing on incremental innovations, established businesses leave newcomers to find new and better products and services.

 Be a disruptor, not the disrupted.

To round off the main portion of this blog series, I’ll leave you with four key considerations to accelerate your digital transformation, aligned with ideas from my trusted colleague Sameer Patel, SAP’s GM for the Collaboration and Network Software Business.


1)     Experience – Assembling the right team can make all the difference. Start this process before someone else disrupts your business.

2)     Agility – With customers changing as quickly as technology, there’s nothing worse than not being able to react.  Be ready for the change.

3)     Industry differentiation – Maintain an edge.  Remember, you won’t be the only one undergoing digital transformation.

4)     The network effect – Which networks should you create or join?  There are a wealth of options.  Choose wisely, but make sure that you choose.

Coupled with strong leadership across your enterprise, these four key considerations and four key building blocks – the cloud, mobile, data, and networks – offer a strong platform to jump start your digital transformation.  Get started!


Up next: inspirational use case examples of digital transformation


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Digital Transformation, Part 6: Examples of digital transformation done right

Digital Transformation, Part 5: Transformation by Industry

Digital Transformation, Part 4: The Role of Leadership

Digital Transformation, Part 3: The Building Blocks

Digital Transformation, Part 2: What makes it disruptive?

Digital Transformation, Part 1: Rapid State of Change

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