Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Operational Transformation, the Cornerstone Of Digital Transformation

Published: Sep 18, 2017 02:46:25 AM IST
Updated: Sep 20, 2017 03:40:59 PM IST

Operational Transformation, the Cornerstone Of Digital Transformation
Shrewd organisations adopt cohesive end-to-end strategies that enable growth and thrive on latest developments in technology.

Nowadays, many business leaders talk about the necessity of delivering an incredible digital experience to their clients, reducing costs and always being receptive to new ideas. The reasons are obvious. Adaptability is the name of the game. More companies are looking ‘outside-in’ and are adopting newer strategies and processes to stay relevant. Technological innovations have caused fundamental changes in the consumer’s behaviour. Customer demands, expectations and values, probably for the first time, are changing faster than what a vast majority of companies can cope with.

Digital disruption is real and ubiquitous. The writing on the wall — get better or get battered. Digital innovations have unlocked tremendous growth opportunities, but they have also exposed weak areas of your businesses.

Shrewd organizations are transforming themselves iteratively to keep up with the times. They are nimble, ready to reinvent themselves and eager to adopt the most open and cutting-edge technologies.. They adopt cohesive end-to-end strategies that enable growth and thrive on latest developments in technology.

Operational Transformation, the Cornerstone Of Digital Transformation

After all, a change that is conceived at the highest level in the organisation has to trickle down the order. Put differently, if business leaders endeavour to reinvent their businesses they must change the DNA of the company—employee orientation, culture, governance and engagement. This is what operational is all about - driven on three fronts: processes, people and technology.

Process transformation involves upgrading the existing processes to reduce costs, increase profits and create a better product. Teams should critically evaluate existing processes and drastically cut down on inefficiencies that take away from productivity. Technology can be leveraged to automate; turn processes around to deliver more, using the same resources. Data should be the bedrock of all decisions made in an organisation highlighting the need for an evolutionary approach to ‘change-measure-revise’. This will help segment products and processes and identify the money-makers.  
Better processes need to be established to enable scalability. With an emerging global economy, cross-border collaboration is gaining centre stage and processes need to accommodate the changing environments.

 Automation and cognitive technologies are now being used to simplify a lot of procedural work. Emerging technologies like IoT and Blockchain have boosted process transformation by allowing cross-device communication and enhanced auditability. Industries have readily embraced IoT. Smart devices communicating with each other and automatically taking care of the processes drive automation in a lot of companies.

Blockchain primarily is a shared ledger allowing participants to transact where everyone has control, but no single person is in control. Although it’s still in the foundational stage, blockchain technology can address the concern of trust deficit that deters many businesses from delivering better value to their customers.   Permissioned blockchain can be leveraged in business setups to increase trust among different collaborating parties and maintain privacy at the same time. 

People transformation is another critical component of any operational change to build organisational capability and talent. Employees need to be trained and exposed to the latest trends in business and technology.  Automation should be introduced to take care of tedious and mundane tasks and allow employees to focus on ‘high-skilled’ work. Having all stakeholders, staff and customers at the centre of all business decisions has given a new perspective to organisation, enabling them to achieve greater value. 

Quantum leaps in technology have played a pivotal role in driving innovation in business models. Take healthcare for example. Manipal hospitals have adopted IBM’s Watson for Oncology which uses cognitive tools to analyse cancer cases and recommend the best treatment.

Watson technology reads through the patient records, handwritten notes, medical research and diagnosis to investigate and figure out the best possible treatment. Such ground-breaking changes at the intersection of technology and processes have helped resolve some long-standing problems. The new generation of cognitive machines work as loyal accomplices to deliver value to the clients. AI, Machine learning, IoT, Blockchain are no longer buzzwords in the industry but actual drivers of business successes.

The positive operational change will not only result in efficiencies across the process chain but also unveil new opportunities that only seems futuristic right now. Highly orchestrated environments will lead to the development of complex and sophisticated ecosystems. Consumer centricity will enable increased engagement, better product customisations and higher value per customer.

Data analytics and cognitive technologies will allow business owners to analyse and have a much better understanding of their consumer base. This deep understanding will help drive better business decisions. This rapidly changing environment will lead to consolidation in industries and emergence of new ecosystems. These are golden times for the astute business leaders to make the most of the transition.

The hallmark of a thriving business in a digital world is its ability to adapt and adopt everything that can help it grow at a rapid pace. And ‘operational transformation’ is one of the core pillars that will drive better customer services, optimizing business cost and improving productivity,  taking the organization to a greater scale than has previously been possible.