Digital transformation is seemingly at the top of every organization’s agenda. From marketing, to manufacturing, to finance, business departments of all types are quickly realizing the many benefits offered by today’s digital tools and are seeking new and unique ways to implement them into their day-to-day operations. As Citrix defines it, “Digital transformation is the strategic adoption of digital technologies. It’s used to improve processes and productivity, deliver better customer and employee experiences, manage business risk, and control costs.”
Digital transformation describes the strategic use of digital technologies to accelerate business activities, processes, competencies, and models. According to technology media company IDG, 89% of companies plan to adopt a digital-first strategy, but only 44% of them have actually done it. If your business is among the 56% stuck in the planning (or pre-planning) phase, you’re not alone.
From a project management perspective, digital transformation isn’t something to fear. Yes, it will take time, effort, and a bit of adjustment. However, it can also empower you as a project manager to better manage team members, more efficiently deliver projects, and, ultimately, better serve your company’s customers and clients.
With digital transformation expected to be an important strategy for all types of businesses in 2020, here are three of the most impactful technologies fueling this change.
Chances are you’ve heard of the cloud by now, or even used the term yourself, but maybe you haven’t fully realized the impact it has on day-to-day activities. If you’ve edited a document in Google Drive, streamed music on Spotify, or updated your resume on LinkedIn, you’ve seen cloud computing in action, though you may not have been aware of it.
Cloud technology can be very beneficial for businesses, especially where collaboration is concerned. Because the cloud is hosted on the internet rather than an on-premise server, employees can access cloud-based tools anywhere they have an internet connection. One of the biggest areas in which modern digital technology is redefining project management is cross-team communication. Business applications built to run on the cloud offer a complete, connected, and integrated method to streamline lines of business including finance, supply chain, and human resources.
If you’re looking for the right cloud-based business application, be sure to find one that runs on its own proprietary cloud, rather than those like SAP’s HCM suite or Infor's ERP solution, which are hosted on third-party cloud vendors. This can make it more complex to communicate, as applications are not working as one cohesive unit.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence (AI) has quickly become a popular application for many businesses, as it has focused on making intelligent machines that are capable of solving some problems as well as (or better than) people can. More and more companies have developed AI-based applications, which have lowered costs and made AI accessible to both small and enterprise-level organizations. Gartner reports AI adoption has tripled in the last year alone, with an estimated 37% of organizations now implementing AI in some form.
AI-based tools and technologies can help today’s workforces become more productive and efficient, while also yielding a more positive customer experience. Take AI-fueled chatbots for example, which can respond to customer queries, automate tedious tasks, and facilitate the sales experience for customers. With efficiency at the forefront, chatbots help teams complete projects and other tasks in a more efficient manner.
For example, Whole Foods’ Facebook Messenger Bot helps connect visitors with cooking inspirations, specific products, and recipes based on their unique queries. The bot guides a user through the selection of a variety of qualifying filters (e.g., is the consumer looking to be inspired by European cuisine?) and then directs them to the page on the Whole Foods website that best matches that request. As a result, visitors to the site spend an astonishing 50 minutes per day browsing, an engagement rate that is hard to beat.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
As IoT program head at techUK, Matthew Evans, tells Wired, "Simply, the Internet of Things is made up of devices—from simple sensors to smartphones and wearables—connected together." The Internet of Things (IoT) has created a number of opportunities for once-unattainable products and services. In fact, according to a recent Forbes Insights survey, 63% of today’s enterprises have used their IoT capabilities to deliver new or updated services directly to customers.
IoT tools can discover, capture, and act on the various data sources now available from an array of devices, sensors, and systems around the globe. Organizations using IoT will have an in-depth view of their customers’ requirements in a way that wasn’t previously thought to be possible. These organizations can then use those insights to improve the customer experience.
As technology continues to advance at exponential rates, organizations must adapt to the digital landscape or risk getting left in the dust. Change isn’t always easy, but when it comes to the success of your projects, your team members, and your company, a little self-imposed disruption is worth it in the long haul.