Information Technology (IT) has certainly taken a centre stage in our lives and it is a fact that most of us spend considerable portion of our time at these – state of the art – technological devices.
People from all walks of life has embraced latest gadgets and innovations in ‘Information Technology’ as if we have been using them for a long time. They are taking care of all their social life, having fun, sharing their experiences, etc. with people they know or do not know – on social media, in business and learning about the world, latest developments, news, etc.
What about the business world? Do companies – especially SMEs – put enough emphasis on ‘IT enabled digital transformation’, which is an inevitable reality, in their own businesses?
Are multiple / standalone software applications and disconnected spreadsheets, which usually have a single function, fit for purpose and aligned to a company’s aims and future ambitions?
Can SMEs outpace and outwit their competitors by not investing in latest Information Technology?
Do SMEs realise the positive impact that digital transformation have on process automation, business efficiency, employee productivity, on-time delivery and customer satisfaction?
Some companies are still not sure about:
- The concept of digital transformation
- How it will improve business processes and increase efficiency in departments and processes in a company
- The change required within culture, processes and working practices.
In a nutshell, ‘digital transformation’ is a continuous improvement journey with a focus on digitising, automating and streamlining business processes by appropriate and innovative information technology. But, it is more than the technology. It is cross-functional and a strategic change across the whole operation.
It is driven by a continuous improvement culture (known as Kaizen in Japanese culture) and pursuit of excellence in a company and its business processes in order become a more efficient, effective and integrated business operation and fundamentally stay competitive.
Especially in a globalised business environment, where competition is truly and increasingly global, so many forward thinking companies have already embraced latest information technology in their businesses.
Digital transformation is an integral part of their business strategy and has been proactively adopted by their workforce in order to manage their business processes and transactions better, faster and easier in an interconnected way – with significant benefits to their bottom line.
So, where exactly should this digital transformation start?
Digital transformation should:
- Be driven and led by the business and its needs
- Be process and people oriented
- Have a clear focus on the customer journey.
Initially, a ‘discovery phase’ should take place with a focus on current state (AS-IS) of business processes in a company. Scope for the discovery phase involves inputs and outputs of business processes, whether they are manual or system based.
A business wide IT (Information Technology) landscape will naturally emerge, highlighting business critical stages, steps, documents, existing software applications, bespoke software applications, manual processes, improvement gaps.
The focus should then switch to future state of the company (TO BE) and future business processes.
Finally, the company should investigate, review, select and adopt appropriate emerging Information Technology, which might consist of a suite of Cloud software applications, a fully integrated ERP software, industry specific ‘best of breed’ software application, etc. according to the needs and requirements of the company and its business model.
Cloud Computing offers huge benefits – especially with availability of 24/7 access to Cloud based software applications. Users can speed up business processes improving business wide communication, reporting, information sharing, filing, documenting, archiving, etc.
Managing, coordinating and controlling business processes in an integrated Cloud environment can increase the overall collective efficiency within a company.
All business processes can be streamlined from enquiry to invoice internally and after sales in customer service. Workforce will be reducing and getting rid of unnecessary administrative activities across the company with additional benefits such as reducing the costs of paper, printing and postage.
As a result of these improvements, employees can focus on more important and value adding activities, not on constant problems and firefighting.
With digital transformation, a company can reduce unnecessary workload, increase productivity, manage business processes better, save time and ultimately having a positive impact on the bottom line with increased profits.
In an integrated Cloud software environment, users will be able access information recorded by all departments and functions of the company. There will be no loss of documents or time. Users can find and access them in seconds. All users can operate and communicate in the same environment from any device, any time.
Information Technology is rapidly developing and changing. This will create a bigger gap for companies to bridge, who do not embrace digital transformation.
‘IT enabled digital transformation’ has the potential to take SMEs not just a step ahead, but beyond what they and their competitors might expect.
If you want to discover how ZEST I/O can help your business with our consultancy services, please get in touch with our team and discuss how we can facilitate and enable your digital transformation journey!