BUSINESSES that transform today, but treat their investment in new processes and technology as a ‘set-and-forget’ exercise, could easily find themselves out of date and unable to compete effectively in a constantly-changing marketplace.
That is the view of Epicor Software regional vice president for Australia and New Zealand, Greg O’Loan.
He said, in his experience of assisting organisations to adapt to new technologies such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software , it was crucial for businesses to treat transformation as an ongoing process with no end goal but, rather, keeping a series of objectives in mind.
“There is a lot of talk about digital transformation, which has become an industry buzzword,” Mr O’Loan said. “However, digital transformation actually refers to business transformation and it’s far from simply being a buzzword.
“Transformation is the process of change, which is essential for businesses to remain viable. Businesses that never change will quickly go out of business as they remain out of touch with their customers and unable to deliver what’s being demanded.”
Mr O’Loan said a recent Gartner survey showed how chief information officers (CIOs) were increasingly becoming business leaders. While IT is still a responsibility of the CIO, achieving revenue growth and developing digital transformation were identified most often as top business priorities for organisations in 2018.
Mr O’Loan said there were two key characteristics of a business that is successfully navigating transformation – ‘recognition that change is ongoing’ and ‘focussing on the right things’.
Recognition that change is ongoing
“While many businesses may have begun their transformation journey by digitalising a few processes, savvy business leaders soon realised that transformation couldn’t stop there,” Mr O’Loan said. “Just as technology continues to evolve and improve, companies must also grow and change as they look to leverage new and emerging technologies and compete more effectively with others in the marketplace.
“For example, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are just starting to gain a foothold in businesses,” he said.
“The automated processes enabled by these technologies can save businesses time and money, and help them operate more efficiently. As these technologies, and businesses’ understanding of how to use them, evolve further, companies can become even more efficient, work in even smarter ways, and focus on how the changes can support their growth plans.
Focusing on the right things
Mr O’Loan said transformation was not just a matter of adopting new technology, although technology can play a significant role.
“However, true transformation requires business leaders to examine their own business’s capabilities and resources versus the demands and opportunities of the market it operates in,” Mr O’Loan said. “Then, leaders need to consider what steps to take to position the company for growth. This could take the form of a new technology solution, a new approach to processes, or a combination of both.
“For example, manufacturers are finding new ways to bundle services with products, make bespoke products to order, and streamline the fulfilment process, to name just a few. These innovations are transforming businesses by providing new revenue streams and requiring new ways of working.
“To achieve these innovations, businesses need an industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that delivers significant visibility into operations,” he said.
“There are also opportunities for businesses to move beyond their core offering. For example, some aged care organisations have expanded into catering or developing allied health products and services.
“This type of expansion is driven by market demand as revealed by data analysis and an understanding of the company’s capability based on information from its ERP system.
“Most businesses have only begun to explore the very tip of the iceberg of what’s possible with new technologies,” Mr O’Loan said. “While they’re right to proceed with cautious optimism, businesses that can figure out how to make these new technologies work for them sooner can outperform the competition.
“Ongoing transformation should be a given for today’s businesses. Doing so successfully depends on a proactive, visionary approach to technology that maps the business’s desired growth trajectory with possible technology solutions.”