How far are UK businesses along the digital transformation journey?

Once it is recognised that each type of business has a different motivator for their digital journey, one can step back and see the relative organisation effort that has been attributed to the change. I’ve outlined two key types below:

  1. Those that value data are often at the forefront. These business are digital natives, innovators, living and breathing in the digital world. They are the game changers, the risk takers and the data owners.

    Data at the heart of the digital business is like a borderless currency. It has value. Even if that value individually is imperceptibly small, enough of the data or relative turnover of the data can create a lucrative stream of revenue or savings. So big and small everyone has the ability to use data to their advantage.

    Visionaries have identified that as a borderless currency, data can drive significant export revenue. Take Uber – they have no Taxi’s, own no repair facilities or fuel depots; and yet using data they have rapidly broken into a saturated market and succeeded on a global scale.

    One in four of the businesses interviewed in Plymouth were identified as digital natives.

  2. Following soon after are those motivated by change and transformation. They are seeking a competitive edge through efficiency, innovation or growth. I’ve touched on growth above, so I’ve focused on efficiency and innovation below.

    “Efficiency, automation, cost reduction, improved productivity.” the corporate words for change. A way of recognising that the demand and needs of your customer base is adapting to their own circumstances and your business need to keep in alignment with them. However, in the digital world, transformation of your customer base can happen in seconds, can happen on a global scale and drive the needs for your business to adopt agility. This agility cannot happen using committees and paper process, it’s driven by automation, use of commodity services and recognition of the value of data.

    Use of commodity services, for example, allows the business to refocusing the business on its core needs. Office 365 is a great example. No need for complex IT systems, a large IT team and expensive training bills. Out of the box an environment is created in which business can be done. Out of the box you get sharing of data. Out of the box you get security and corporate controls. All of this without the vast IT team to go with it.

    Or consider Handover HR, a small business build around the bureau of HR services. Payroll provided on a per head per month basis; recruitment build upon results; and organisational design on demand. The need to keep staff in these areas, skilled, managed, organised, paid, is reduced to the senior posts who set strategy and direction.

    All this built around the digital footprint of the organisation. The sharing and exchange of information outside of its traditionally closed boundary allows the use of pools of specialism that would otherwise be expensive to maintain and difficult to retain.

    Over half of business interviewed in Plymouth fit into this category.

What impact is that having on the structure of IT and Digital teams?

Internal IT teams are moving towards being ‘intelligent customers’. Services provided by specialist providers in the cloud, delivered on demand and costed by need. The result has been a step change in the IT Department’s delivery, credibility and trust, allow it to become a business partner and to focus on the needs of the digital business.

This is a two fold shift – from recruitment and maintenance of lots of technical staff, to a move to digital focused staff. Not concerned about the bits and bytes, just concerned with facilitating business change and the agility of the digital world. It is a vision inspired by a generational change.

This significant cultural change has forced management to change to. Traditionalist IT management focus on project or operations, slow and ponderous; but in the world where these services are bought and traded, new more dynamic strategy and delivery management roles are required that facilitate innovation in a shell of compliance and security.

• Specialist will always be needed and traded with value.
• Internal IT teams will move from technology towards digital values – business enabling and dynamic.
• Management will need to move with the times, be innovative, but think security and compliance.

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