Technology = Digital = Disruption, says the new algebra. Except that it isn’t.
We know from our experience in steering digital transformation that success is as much about using technology to renew the landscape as it is about getting it to completely disrupt it in unprecedented ways. There are indeed two simultaneous and concurrent aspects to managing the digital revolution – one that seeks to make improvements, and better current efficiencies through the transformation of atoms to bits; another that tries to redefine the landscape in a wave of massive change to the customer experience -sometimes also to the business model, and in a direction hitherto unexplored. One that works around renewing existing constructs, the other that builds entirely new ones.
This duality of being a digital business can be summed up nicely as one that continuously exploits digital technologies to both create new sources of value for customers and increase operational agility in service of customers. This definition aligns closely with the view that digital transformation as a continuum where improving enterprise efficiency is the goal at one end, and improving customer experience at the other. And across all industries, mobile devices play a vital role to offer ubiquitous connectivity — from connected products to wearables — driving both improvements in digital customer experience and digital operational excellence.
How we go about that eventually stems from the client’s context and priorities, but the principle remains unaltered – to look for opportunities to extract further business efficiencies as well as delight customers by elevating their experience and by developing highly desirable contiguous offerings that promise new avenues to create more value.
For example, for one mining company, improving equipment uptime was a clear priority. They were able to install and capture sensor data from equipment and stream it in real-time, through an analytics engine, to an equipment performance dashboard. This alerted maintenance personnel to a change in state-of-systems that unless arrested, would lead to breakdown. This early warning system enabled them to reduce downtime and maintenance costs significantly.
But for an insurance company, the Internet of Things represented an opportunity to take a totally new approach to pricing – that of usage-based insurance. They made the shift with a car plug-in to continuously monitor and transmit driving proficiency data and generate driving profiles that they could use to charge “personalized” premiums. This changed the insurance buying experience for both the insurer and the insured.
While the research, and these examples paint a compelling picture of the what and how of being digital, there remains the question of why. And there lies a notion that’s profound. When digital technology amplifies human imagination, the mundane and routine repetitive tasks can be carefully modeled and precisely formulated to be automated, setting the business free to pursue new ideas, new ways of making – the important things. These are the things that only human imagination, creativity and imagination can bring to life, and purposeful solutions born from empathy for the human situation as only humans can have. There sits the opportunity of our times – to leverage technology and augment individual talent and collective capability, to truly unleash human potential.