In 2011, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen famously declared that “software is eating the world.” Fast forward a few years, and his prediction could not be more on the nose. Everything from transportation and shopping to healthcare and communications are all dominated by apps. It’s truly been a digital transformation.
Industries that haven’t embraced this in force—think taxis and hotels, for instance—see diminished returns and obsolescence. The fate that befell former industry titans like Blockbuster can happen to any business or anyone. A 2016 survey from Deloitte found that close to 90 percent of managers and executives predict significant digital transformation in the months and years ahead.
“Digital is at the heart of businesses and in my view it’s a reflection of the fact that customer behaviour is changing,” Thom Groot, digital director at car breakdown company The AA, told Marketing Week. “The digital age has accelerated that change and therefore businesses need to be fast at changing themselves to meet that customer behaviour.”
This transformation is not limited to just industries and companies. All jobs in any business have been digitized in part or in whole. Advanced software, widespread internet connectivity and artificial intelligence now accomplish myriad tasks once handled manually by humans—and with record efficiency too.
Digital transformation examples
For instance, consider how all these departments and job types have been affected by digital transformations:
- Sales teams can no longer rely on just trade shows and cold calling to find prospects and close deals. What can a salesperson offer that automated emails, CRM software and an ecommerce store are unable to accomplish? With websites and online research, prospects now come to sales already knowing about you and the competition. The goal of sales is to reassure and fill in gaps, not provide initial knowledge.
- Field service staff like engineers and technicians that perform on-site work used to rely heavily on pen and paper to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. However, digital transformation has dramatically affected how field service personnel track information and solve problems. Advances in automation and the Internet of Things enable field service to more quickly identify problems and then address them, often remotely and in seconds as opposed to days.
- IT has an opportunity to gain immeasurably from digital transformation, but this digitization is also a threat to the traditional role of the department. Many IT job specs, from provisioning physical software to updating old hardware, are now either obsolete or improved upon significantly through digitization.
- Marketing automation tools provide greater personalization abilities, making the older “spray and pray” strategies employed by many marketing teams obsolete. Competitor research, branding, direct-to-consumer messaging and much more can now all be handled by apps, forcing marketing professionals to be both more creative and smarter in their strategies.
- Job recruitment professionals used to involve hundreds of hours of manual work to find and vet candidates, with staffing agencies providing assistance as needed. Their job is totally different now that AI and advanced matching software make finding the right candidate and sifting through resumes much easier.
- Legal teams at firms and law offices have been transformed by digitization as well. Lawyers must now serve a more advisory role, as much of the grunt work of finding documentation, related materials, etc. has been automated and streamlined via desktop applications.
These departments are far from the only ones affected by digital transformation. In fact, the digital transformations seen today form only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Future digital transformations will further transform all job functions.
Imagine being able to connect the digital aspects of these job functions. How much more efficient would sales be if they could see the competitor research, branding, direct-to-consumer messaging and analytics available to marketing teams through automation tools? How much better would the customer experience be if field service technicians and support staff could proactively reach out to customers when connected devices warn that repairs are needed? Integrating the systems that have revolutionized job functions take digital transformation to the next level.
Smart businesses take steps, such as integration, today to position themselves to best leverage future changes and technology. There’s a reason digitally mature firms grow nine percent more and are 26 percent more profitable than their peers.
“Digital transformation investments are ultimately about business survival through disruption,” according to Forrester analyst, Dan Bieler.