What is Digital Transformation?

In Digital Transformation by Bob MeyerLeave a Comment

What is Digital Transformation?

That’s the $1.13 trillion dollar question. I say that, because Forrester predicts the B2B e-commerce market will be $1.13 trillion by 2020 (Source:  The Case for Omnichannel B2B, Andy Hoar, October 2016).

Wikipedia defines the answer as “the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society.” That answer — and many others — will often leave business leaders unsure of what it really means to their organizations.

Perhaps a better question would be, “what does Digital Transformation mean for my company?” But the answer to that question will vary depending on the company. That’s because you’ll need to take a close look at how your organization is interacting today with clients and prospects, and by what means.

For this discussion, I’ll focus on two main types of companies: those that distribute products and services (Distributors) vs. those that manufacture products (Manufacturers).

Distributors have numerous touchpoints with their clients/prospects — sales, customer service, service technicians, catalogs, website, email, EDI, fax, phone, etc.  And the list evolves as technology advances.

Manufacturers have a similar list, but it also includes their distributors/retailers.

Leaders in both organizations need to ensure that their messaging, information and pricing allow for the simplest user experience possible for anyone who interacts with the organization via any touchpoints. That is Digital Transformation.

John Chambers, former CEO of Cisco, says it best: companies will need to reinvent themselves by integrating digitization into the fabric of their business strategy.

How are you weaving digital technology into the core of your organization?

You have to think along the lines of disrupt or get disrupted.

How can you determine if your organization is being disruptive? I may be oversimplifying this, but here are four suggestions:

  • Talk to your customers. Find out what is working and not working. Manufacturers will also need to take it a step further and talk to end users.
  • Talk to your customer service and sales people. They are on the front lines and will know what is working for your customers – and what is not.
  • Develop personas to identify who your customers are and what they want.
  • Map out the various ways customers can buy from you. Do they get different levels of information (like pricing) if they call in vs. if they order via the web? Does a customer service representative have more accurate information than your sales people?

Ask yourself: are you doing things the same way you’ve done them for years? If so, you’re definitely not being disruptive.

The next step will be to ask those same people how and where you should invest your dollars and resources.

As you map out these user experiences you’ll start to see where the organization is doing well and where it’s falling short. I recommend taking a look first at the areas where you’re doing well, because at some point a known — or unknown — competitor will find a way to do it better.  Wouldn’t you rather control the disruption than have it forced upon you?

The Disrupted

Here are two of my favorite examples of companies being disrupted. One went out of business, and the other is currently fighting across all fronts.

Blockbuster: “Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition,” said Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes, speaking to the Motley Fool in 2008. “It’s more Wal-Mart and Apple.” We all know how that turned out.

Procter & Gamble: the image below shows how in a few short years P&G isn’t just competing with major CPG companies for shelf space. They’re competing in the digital arena as well.


Disrupt on your own terms!

itelligence can help. We can provide digital strategy and services to assist in your Digital Transformation as well as offer a full line of digital solutions powered by SAP including SAP Hybris Cloud for Sales (CRM), Cloud for Service, Hybris eCommerce platform and Hybris Marketing.

To learn more, take a look at our video, 4 Things Today’s B2B Buyers Want to Experience.

And be sure to check out my next blog post on Digital Transformation: Where do we start?

A version of this article was first published on itelligencegroup.com. 

Photo Credit: Cerillion Flickr via Compfight cc

Bob Meyer serves as the Vice President of the SAP Hybris line of business at itelligence. Bob has been in the technology space for over 25 years. For the past 19+ years Bob has been focused on delivering ecommerce solutions for B2C and B2B customers. Bob is directly involved in providing both strategic and tactical leadership across the business. He is focused on helping clients realize the potential of digital transformation to help their business grow today and into the future. Bob holds and Executive MBA from Northern Illinois University and a B.A. in Management and Organizational Behavior from Benedictine University.

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