The journey to a digital business

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I recently spoke at a Cybermedia webinar on the digital business, which I’m converting into a weekly column series in Dataquest. This is the first of the next 9 articles in which I will share my experiences on – The evolution of a digital business; The challenges of trust and experience; Break the silos first; Technical debt – Build the foundations; Architecture for digital; Partnerships; Culture; Leadership and risk.

In this first article, let’s try to define the Digital Enterprise in an evolving continuum. The starting point of a digital business is the automation and optimization of processes to improve efficiency and reduce costs. A digital business doesn’t stop on its own and expands its information footprint. The progress of digitization can be explained by the following steps:

The transformation started at the level of business processes, and partly at the level of the employee experience, such as to activate business processes, increase efficiency, connect business processes to financial accounting under the form of ERP and various internal systems. Analysis can also improve your decision support during this phase.
In the first digital expansion, the company engages partners such as suppliers and dealers, on supplier e-commerce, channel integration or CRM platforms. Empower their employees with mobile apps and tools to better sell and serve customers. For example, giving a mobile application to service advisers that allows them to inspect the vehicle without paper or pen, and also to be able to take pictures. Next are customers and products – collecting real-time information on performance, usage, and issues with the product and customer experience. This is where things get complicated. So let’s segment them.

Complexity of B2B2C companies

There will always be two types of organizations – B2C like banks, retail, etc. And channel-driven organizations like automotive, CPGs, FMCGs, etc. B2C companies will be faced with high volumes, privacy issues, experience, etc. difficult to expand the digital footprint – because the more actors we add, the more diversity it adds to the ecosystem. So let’s focus on B2B2C, for example. Automotive.

The goal is to build customer loyalty. But often in B2B2C industry models it is difficult to define your customer. For example, in the truck industry, try to identify the customer: does the finance company own the vehicle? Or the fleet owner who operates the vehicle? Or the logistics company with which the vehicle is operated under contract? Or the driver? Or the customer of the logistics company who needs to know the location of the shipment?

Then there are other players, such as parts retailers, small mechanics, application aggregators, who are not part of the formal ecosystem. But we still have to serve them all. And remember, we are enriched with data if we serve it.
This is where the ecosystem connection – the holy grail of digital transformation – comes in to serve all ecosystem participants, regardless of who is who.

The holy grail of digital transformation is to engage and serve all participants in the customer ecosystem with the required data and information.

The next aspect to reaching the ecosystem is the performance of the product. Mobile applications connecting to products, for example an application controlling a fan; or vehicle connected by telematics. This data treasure can provide intelligent information to the product owner regarding performance, usage patterns, driver behavior, etc.

Digitization is about connecting the real user and the value added product / asset.

This is how a digital business reaches everyone its products and services reach. We need to see where we are as a business beyond the ERP stage. Have we connected our suppliers, resellers, assets, customers and end user ecosystem? What stage are you at?

Please leave your comments here, or start a discussion about the post in the author’s Linkedin posts. Coming Up – The digital enterprise is an outward journey. If the employees are not happy, how will the partners be happy? If the partners are not satisfied, how will the customers be satisfied? The quality of a digital business is determined by data, information and the value added by technology to each of the stakeholders – the stakeholder experience.

Coupled with experience is trust – does your business ecosystem trust you not to disintermediate them? How do you approach stakeholder experience and trust – we’ll talk about that in the next article.

The article was written by Jagdish Belwal, Founder and CEO, Jagdish Belwal Advisory


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