Digital transformation is a hot topic in every technology news forum, podcast, and blog these days but, what exactly is it and how can you leverage it in your company as a startup founder?
In this article, we will help you understand some of the key business decisions enterprise companies are making in respect to how they operate that you might consider and use to gain a competitive advantage as you build out new products for your own company. Let’s get to it.
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation, in simple terms, is the process of using modern digital technologies to enhance or create new business processes and a culture that constantly improves customer experience and efficiency throughout a changing business landscape.
In practice, digital transformation just means adopting a culture centered on providing constant and iterative value enhancement for the product or service your company offers its clients in a way that:
- Begins with having regular hypotheses about the product’s value to those clients,
- Identifying arising needs
- And then constantly exceeding it with newer solutions powered by modern technologies as those customers’ needs become more dynamic each passing day.
Digital transformation drives competitiveness
CIOs and other top executives from businesses that have successfully cultivated digital transformation culture will most likely tell you how much it adds to the competitive advantage of their company.
Digital transformation has the power to reinvent and transform a company in a way that leaves it relevant and competitive for years regardless of changes to its business landscape and consumer behavior.
It did for some of the world’s leading businesses and you can read their stories on our blog.
Much like the 2020 International Data Corporation report that shows worldwide digital transformation spending increased despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 is likely to see even more companies adopt a transformative approach to their business operation.
Smart companies and founders are going to look at how companies like Slack, Zoom, Amazon, Netflix, and others were able to scale to meet the surge in demand for their offering and the disturbance the pandemic had on their usual operation and learn from it.
Since there is so much to learn from the actions of these companies, let us take a moment to look at their actions and what they are doing to scale their business.
1. Accelerating changes to companies’ cloud architecture
One of the buzzwords to have come out of the tech scene in recent years is ‘multi cloud’ and ‘hybrid cloud’.
Those phrases describe two distinct and currently ongoing trends in the cloud computing scene where the first one explains how big enterprises are taking advantage of the distinct strength of the various cloud service providers by using Google Cloud for just development and testing for example, AWS for disaster recovery because of the wider choice of availability zones it provides, and Microsoft Azure to process business analytics data.
Hybrid cloud on the other hand, describes how companies are now combining private (cloud infrastructure owned and run by the company) and public cloud infrastructure such as AWS for their business needs.
“Multi-cloud is reshaping industries and advancing us all into a new digital business model”Raghu RaghuramCEO of VMware
It intends to lure public-sector clients like government agencies to host their sensitive workload through its platform on the highly secure, government-certified cloud infrastructure that its new partner provides.
This new partnership is one of many digital transformation trends we are currently witnessing in the technology scene and it serves as an indicator of companies’ openness to now adopt—like in the case of Slack, a hybrid cloud service architecture in cases where it can help to meet their business goals.
2. AI and automation
Arguably the second-biggest digital transformation trend going into 2022 is how businesses are relying even more on automation and harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to bolster their business operation.
During the pandemic, we saw that in practice with the rise of AI-powered drug discovery startups like Healx, Exscientia, and BenevolentAI. The latter used artificial intelligence to repurpose existing drugs to fight Covid during the heydays of the pandemic.
One of the many companies driving this AI and automation trend is Google. The tech giant recently launched its latest line of mobile devices that doubled down on the use of artificial intelligence for its phones’ cameras using the company’s first self-designed smart chip.
“For a long time, Pixel has been known for awesome photography, which is truly a function of our ability to do AI-driven, machine-learning-driven improvements to the camera experience. With this new platform, with Tensor [the smart chip], we've literally designed the platform to be able to support the most cutting-edge work we have in all aspects of AI.”Rick OsterlohGoogle's head of devices
As a custodian of product development, 2022 might just be the perfect year to integrate and harness machine learning and AI for a better product experience.
3. Subscription for everything
As an executive in charge of your company’s product roadmap, one digital transformation trend you should be excited about is how common the software-as-a-service model now is. How more acceptable it is today than it was a mere two years ago.
Backed by a change in consumer behavior, companies are now choosing to adopt a subscription-based business model for the service they provide more often than we have seen in the past.
Traditional business model companies like HP — Hewlett Packard Enterprise, for instance, have kicked the transition of some of its services to this model by 2022.
4. Mainstream 5G
Another trend founders may want to keep at the back of their minds as they deliberate on new features is the expected increase in the coverage of 5G networks in countries around the world in 2022.
According to Apple, 5G networks are expected to be available from more than 200 network providers in 60 countries and regions worldwide by next year. As you may have guessed, companies are starting to provide support and build out features that fully utilize the power of the higher bandwidth 5G promises.
5. Cyber security, data analytics, and privacy
The issue of data, its safety, and how much of it is collected have been at the forefront of privacy discussions for the past five years.
Companies like Apple for instance are now starting to take extra measures to secure and distribute user data ethically by making sure it only collects no more data than it needs from users.
Here’s how Daniel Newman, a contributor on Forbes put this trend:
“In 2022, organizations that relied on data collected through apps and other third-parties will need to augment their data collection policies...Customers are used to amazing customer experiences that require data to happen. [Organizations] will need to find new sources of data and determine how to collect and manage all of it in an open and honest manner that will enable the same level of customer experience [even as data protection laws tighten]”Daniel NewmanContributor on Forbes
For founders and executives in charge of a company’s product, this means putting more thought into your organization’s data collection strategy and considering the use of some form of customer data platform agencies like some enterprise companies are now doing.
As we have seen in this article, some of the biggest companies are constantly finding newer ways of boosting operating efficiency and meeting customers’ needs. And, one way they do this is by using the latest technologies and adapting the operations to use the newest processes.
There’s no doubt that adopting a culture of digital transformation in your own startup like these companies will add to its competitiveness.
It will endear your company to your customers’ hearts and lead them to encourage other people to use your product or service because they know you constantly take care of their needs even before they realize that need themselves.