Digital Transformation – The New Frontier for Business Leaders

Brian Goodman by Brian Goodman
March 31, 2016
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The Center for Digital Transformation (CDT) at the UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business held their second annual conference on Thursday, March 24, and attracted more than 300 business executives seeking insights from industry innovators on how to stay relevant in an increasingly digital world. The one-day forum, titled “Road to Reinvention: Leadership in the Digital Age,” featured thought-provoking interviews, moderated panel sessions and fireside chats with leaders from various industries and organizations such as Wal-Mart, IBM, GE Digital, Taco Bell, PepsiCo, UnitedHealth Group, Target, Anthem and CoreLogic.

It is certainly no secret that our world is shifting toward an ever-increasing digital reality, with transformation happening all around us. We now have the ability to simultaneously connect via mobile, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and the Cloud, with expanded connectivity options and bandwidth capacity that enables companies to not only jump on the digital transformation bandwagon, but also reform their businesses in order to capture more market share and increase profits.

Yet despite all of this progress, the question remains for those eager to move forward and keep pace: “How can we do it?”

According to Vijay Gurbaxani, CDT’s founding director and Merage School’s Taco Bell Endowed Professor of Information Systems and Computer Science, the solution isn’t so simple. “Executives tell us that they know they have to transform their organizations,” he said. “The truth is, there is no easy answer – no one has cracked the code on reinvention.”

Over the past few years, companies have largely been competing on cost and unique value to customers. By embracing the digital transformation, however, most experts agree that businesses can successfully combine low costs and superior experiences in ways that previously could not have been accomplished. From a corporate strategy perspective, companies that fail to recognize and embrace this shift will likely struggle to be relevant in the near future.

Business leaders are at a crossroad, as investing in technology has become a necessity for meeting virtually all consumer and market expectations and unlocking new sources of value for clients. And though the choice may seem obvious and rather straightforward, many decision makers grapple with the notion of investing (generously) in business technology to win, efficiently serve and retain customers. The alternative, though, is to do nothing and either quite possibly be crushed under the weight of legacy IT.

No one can dispute that a better customer experience correlates with higher revenue growth, and forward-thinking businesses—B2B and B2C—are right to obsess over offering a better and differentiated customer experience considering the fact that brand loyalty is now being replaced with experience loyalty. But this is a shift no longer limited to the service industry; industrial businesses are feeling the pressure as well.

Bill Ruh, CEO of GE Digital, may well have provided conference attendees with the ultimate equation when he stated, “The industrial companies that can bring together cloud, open source, and real-time process management with industrial product cycles will be the ones that will win in the digital transformation process.” How it is solved will be up to the business leaders of the new digital era.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what your company is doing to transform its business to stay relevant in an increasingly digital world.  Feel free to email me at: brian.goodman at technossus dot com.

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