CiNext – Digital answers to non-digital questions

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by Jesmond Saliba

Companies today are born digital. The digitisation of processes not only opens up exciting new business opportunities but makes entrepreneurship itself more widely accessible and more democratic.

But the potential of turning digital is neither lost on more mature companies; indeed, many legacy organisations from cosmetics empire L’Oreal to top brewer AB InBev are themselves digital pioneers, successfully integrating AI and IoT into their core operations.

The digital revolution, however, does not stop at the adoption of internet technologies. Cloud systems and robotics, big data and nanotechnology, count for little if they are not accompanied by innovation in the business model. In fact, Digital Transformation is increasingly dropping out of pace with the relentless waves of technological novelties.

Businesses oftentimes find themselves at a loss as to which fancy new product to implement next with so many powerful, easy-touse machines promising to “allow companies to focus on their product.”

Alas, that flies directly in the face of digital transformation because if there is one thing that digitalisation should achieve, it is pushing businesses to take their focus off what they do and re-valuate why they do it.

Technological breakthroughs are meaningless without their broader social backdrop, Advances in this area are the confluence of a multiplicity of variables and, as much as scientific genius and idealistic vision are important to technical development, tech evolution ultimately grows out of the environment it is situated in. So, the shift towards a digital reality is itself a reflection of a deeper, more expansive transformation in human systems.

Digitalisation is not merely a layer of slick automation apps added on top of existing company processes: a true digital transformation challenges the entire architecture of value creation, value proposition, and value capture. Essentially, digital transformation is the profound rethink of who the customer is in the emerging context.

Companies that upgrade their mechanics with the latest tools but stick to their usual business models are not unlike a town-crier investing in a hoverboard. They fail to understand that the real changes are taking place in consumption patterns, not the methods of production.

If a digital transformation strategy is to be successful, its purpose is to propose a worthy response to perfectly non-digital transformations.