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Digital Transformation – The Great Game – Part 2 of 3

In the last article, we talked about the fast-moving evolution of digital technologies that are changing the business landscape rapidly. In my view, at a high level, every Business utilizes IT to increase productivity/efficiency/revenue OR decrease Costs.

This series of the 3 Articles is a high-level viewpoint on the evolution of various digital transformation technologies and their relevance to the ultimate enterprise goals of managing revenue growth and containing costs.

Beyond the traditional technologies including ERP, CRM, BPM, MAS, back-end and front-end development platforms, etc. the evolution of Cloud turned out to be one of the most disruptive trends of past 15 years. I remember in the mid to late 90s, when client/server technology was the Corporate IT standard and Cloud/SAAS was just emerging; it was in some ways compared with the early days of dumb terminal computing. It turned out that this modern age of “Dumb Terminal” cloud computing is not so dumb after all.

Salesforce was probably the first company which commercialized the use of the SAAS business model to a point where business rather than IT forced the corporate adoption because the concept of delivering Software as a Service is a very powerful one, both from an application distribution and application maintenance standpoint. Cloud adoptions today can be public or hybrid (Public/Private) depending on the size and the nature of the Organization.

Next up were the Mobile and Social revolutions, along with the advances in Big Data and Analytics solutions. Both mobile and social created a massive amount of opportunities for consumers and consumer-focused companies (or B2C) but not as much for many other B2B businesses (at least not just yet). Although mobile was a great portable application delivery mechanism, the adoption of mobile in enterprise has been limited due to security issues, screen real estate challenges for rich apps and challenges associated with supporting additional Android/iOS based development platforms and Code-bases. There are many hybrid mobile development platforms, however, native Android/iOS platforms still provide the deepest native functionalities for richer apps but with additional development and maintenance costs.

In general, although mobile devices provide opportunities to create some nice productivity apps, it may not be ideal for many Enterprise Applications due to the considerations outlined above. Also, if you look at the overall ecosystem of Mobile App developers, it’s interesting to see that although larger service providers talk about mobility, most of the App Developers are small to medium sized pure play mobile development companies. That points to the fact the most mobile app development projects do not represent large enough contracts for larger service companies and the mobile app development market is highly fragmented.

In any case, the proliferation of newer types of mobile devices such as VR/AR headsets, watches, voice based devices, etc. may change the enterprise worker computing norms in the near future and drive more adoption. Additionally, the hybrid and responsive development platforms are getting more advanced and are evolving where rich responsive apps can be developed across multitudes of devices using the same Code-base; that would eventually drive more mobile adoption in the enterprise.

Social Media based technologies were game changers for consumers and many B2C companies, but let’s take a look at Social Media’s impact on Enterprises from an ROI context. The Opportunities created by Social Media include:

  • Recruitment & Sales using LinkedIn and Tools similar
  • Internal/External Collaboration tools (Alternatives to Email)
  • Social Media Marketing & PR
  • Social Media as a Goldmine of data to gather information about Market/Customer Insights, Dynamic Brand Management through Sentiment Analysis of Social Media, etc.

On the other hand, Challenges associated with Social Media include:

  • Lost Employee Productivity
  • Risk, Security, and Compliance
  • BYOD Policies

If I were to subjectively rank the averaged out ROI around these technologies, cloud technology would probably rank the highest.

The opportunities and challenges vary for each business. In many cases, it may be possible for businesses to establish productivity metrics around such technologies. I have seen some organizations using subjective, as well as objective, ROI Metrics while doing the Cost/Benefit Analysis. Business leaders realize that these new age technologies will permeate the organization one way, or another, hence it is important to establish a success criteria for these technologies early on.

In the next article, we will talk about Big Data & Analytics and AI related technologies.

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