Hindsight to Insight: Why Digital Transformation is Not an Option

If you’re a Star Wars fan like I am, you have always been able to imagine a world where technology is at the heart of everything we do.  Today, a digital world is no longer the stuff of great sci-fi, it’s our reality.  Fueled by our thirst for knowledge and our ‘on-demand’ appetite; technology, and the data it’s creating, are advancing and increasing at exponential rates.  Like never before, businesses are able to tap into a rich pool of data to turn hindsight to insight, identifying unique trends and operating efficiencies that help to propel their business forward and provide a competitive advantage. Digital transformation is about making sure that your business is ready and able to tap into what the digital world has to offer.  It’s about having the technological power to unlock and capitalize on the value of your data.

Earlier this year Dell Technologies launched the second edition of the Digital Transformation Index.  The study was commissioned to survey 4,600 business leaders from around the globe to analyze their organizations’ digital transformation efforts, as compared to the initial study done in 2016.  The results were surprising.  While there were some improvements from the study results two years ago, almost four in ten businesses are still spread across the two least digitally mature groups on the benchmark.

Here are a few key findings that I found most interesting:

  • Emerging markets are continuing to disrupt the business landscape and are scoring higher in digital maturity than developed markets, boasting more digital leaders. These businesses are entering the market with a huge competitive advantage; they are building their businesses with digital engrained in their DNA.  In fact, 53% of business leaders in emerging markets believe their business will “disrupt rather than be disrupted” within five years.
  • In contrast, 51% of businesses in mature markets today believe they’ll struggle to meet changing customer demands within five years.
  • The study indicates that many businesses are not ready for a digital world and it’s no longer just budget and resources holding them back. Today the data indicates that external influences are having a bigger impact on businesses and their digital transformation efforts.

Slide 15: DT Index Executive Summary

Ironically–the very reasons why businesses should transform; data privacy and security concerns, regulations and legislative changes, immature digital culture, and information overload, are now becoming the very reasons why they are struggling to do so.  This is a dangerous position to be in for two reasons.  First, digital transformation does not happen overnight.  Change takes time.  And our study depicts the slow advancement over two years.  Second, internal influences are easier to solve for than external ones.  External influences are unpredictable and are driven by many factors out of your control.

In marketing, we see these changes firsthand.  Every month new tools and apps are being launched, and the amount of data we gather about our business is increasing by the day.  Part of my job is to ensure my team understands and leverages the data available to them to drive innovation that best serves our customers and delivers positive business outcomes.  Instead of driving a “one-size-fits all” marketing strategy, we leverage customer data to provide content that is tailored to our customer’s needs and aligned to where they are on their customer journey; driving towards our vision of personalization at scale.  None of which is possible without the ability to store vast amounts of data, secure the data and then analyze it to understand the valuable insights the data holds.

In the fast-paced, always-on world we live in, it’s easy to forget that only a mere 23 years ago less than 1% of the world’s population had an internet connected device.  Today, every industry has been impacted by digital transformation.  Businesses need an offensive plan to survive and thrive in this digital world. Our study tells us that while progress is slow, business leaders around the globe are taking notice of the importance and potential implications of our digital world and the opportunities available to businesses that are poised to seize them.  Contrary to Luke, “I have a *good* feeling about this!”