The business case for digital transformation

The business case for digital transformation

If your digital transformation efforts are being stalled by the lack of stakeholder buy-in, then yours is a common problem. Many businesses are held back by complacency and a lack of stakeholder investment. Instead of seeing business transformation as an opportunity for growth and innovation, they view it as an intimidating and arduous process.

Misconceptions arise from the perception that all elements of your business must change. The reality is that transformation can start with applying technology or a new business model to only a few activities or processes. By improving these elements iteratively, they will start to significantly enhance value for all stakeholders.

It’s been noted that the average lifespan of a company listed on the S&P 500 index of leading US companies has dropped by more than 50 years in the last century to just 15 years today. This means that companies need to better position themselves if they want to avoid failure. One way to do so is through digital transformation.

The numbers don’t lie

Accenture’s report, Achieving Digital High Performance, supports the need to intensify your digital transformation efforts. While South African businesses are attempting digital transformation, they’re still behind the curve in a few important ways. The report highlights that:

  • Only 3% of South African companies are seeing ROI from going digital.
  • 70% aren’t digitising fast enough or at all.
  • Only 5% of South African companies are identified as digital leaders compared with 25% globally.

South African businesses clearly have an appetite for digital transformation, but there’s some catching up to do if they want to compete in the global market. Business leaders must establish highly iterative, scalable and long-term strategies to achieve meaningful transformation without straying from business objectives and over-exerting resources.

What drives digital transformation?

It’s now more important than ever to prioritise the relevance of your value proposition and the sustainability of the business in its entirety. To achieve this, you must look at two fundamental dynamics to drive this introspection:

  1. Evolving customer preferences 

The way customers find, buy, and use products and services has evolved significantly over the past decade. This has been affected by customers’ expectations which are now driven by factors such as instant gratification, on-demand delivery, the subscription economy, personalisation and stiff global competition. Modern businesses must be able to anticipate their customers’ expectations and exceed them to retain a competitive edge.

  1. Technology 

Customer expectations have changed and businesses must adapt to keep them satisfied. And because these expectations are driven primarily by the internet and technology, businesses also need to adopt newer technology to stay abreast of these changes. Your business must be able to apply technology to solve business issues by leveraging existing systems and always keep an eye on innovation.

The new normal

Today’s leadership must steer the organisation to develop the ability to innovate and reinvent itself when required – that is, to have organisational agility. Businesses should possess the capability to rapidly change or adapt in response to the market. They must also be able to react successfully to the emergence of new competitors, the development of new industry-changing technologies or sudden shifts in overall market conditions. And for this to happen, you sometimes have to re-imagine everything from the ground up – almost as if the past never existed.

This is the essence of successful digital transformation and it comes down to a balance of strategic initiatives, flexibility at every step, and the wisdom to see change as a stimulus instead of a deterrent.

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