May 09, 2023
The ever-expanding world of tech is growing at lightning speed, which means you now have more options than ever before when choosing the right digital solutions for your business.
How many new technology products have you discovered for your industry this year? Probably quite a few. As digital innovation continues to shape the landscape of almost every industry, you have to ask yourself: “Is my organization keeping up?”
Innovation and transformation not only give you a competitive advantage but also allow you to operate more efficiently and provide better customer service. Let’s look at how and why digital innovation is integral to a thriving business.
Digital Innovation vs. Digital Transformation
You’ll often see the terms “digital innovation” and “digital transformation” in close relation to each other. It’s important to know that although they’re closely related, they aren’t quite the same thing.
Digital innovation is the application of technology to existing problems. For example, this could be integrating shipping software into your operations platform so you stop missing shipping deadlines. Or perhaps it’s creating a cloud-based infrastructure so your field team and office team can work in tandem.
According to The Enterprisers Project: “Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers.” This goes beyond solving a particular business problem and expands to how your entire organization operates. It addresses how all of your software and teams are interconnected so that improving one often leads to changes in another.
Oftentimes, digital innovation will lead to digital transformation. As you assess where technology can help you solve problems, you’ll often see the waterfall effects of that decision and decide it might be time for a full transformation.
Trends to Watch
We’ve noticed some powerful trends in business technology and digital transformation lately. Here are a few that we think are the most important, as well as some of our insight as to where the trend is heading.
AI automation for business processes
Machine learning and AI are often used interchangeably, but that is not always correct. Machine learning teaches a machine how to perform a specific task with extreme accuracy, usually through the identification of patterns. Artificial intelligence refers to a broader scope of an intelligent system that can perform complex tasks, at times mimicking human intelligence.
This ability means AI has a much higher adaptability than machine learning, which often makes it a more flexible tool. The best AI is when you don’t even realize it’s AI. For example, for decades AI has been answering the questions of the “Marketing P’s” — product, price, placement, and promotion. E-Commerce product prices are almost always influenced by AI whether you realize it or not.
All business processes have an inherent cost structure and doing things more efficiently will typically impact that organization’s profit line. This is the crux of how AI can impact business processes. It typically takes the form of augmenting someone’s job and augmenting decision-making, or helping people make more (and better) decisions in a shorter amount of time.
AI frees up time for expanding staff roles and responsibilities, plus custom tools can add to your overall business value. However, it’s important to be wary of pitfall thinking — that AI can replace a human being altogether. I don’t believe AI should phase humans out, and we ultimately have the responsibility for the decisions our AI makes.
A classic example of the benefits of AI is examining the potential impact on an outbound marketing program. Let’s say you want to send some marketing materials in the mail. You might have 100,000 potential customers, but your marketing budget is only big enough to target about 1,000 of those customers or 1% of your list. How do you decide which 1% to target?
You could take 1,000 at random, or perhaps the first 1,000 or the most recent 1,000. The best option, however, would be to gather the data you have on these customers and predict who would be most likely to convert on an offer. This is where AI comes into play.
Incorporating AI into your marketing strategy can bump up your conversion rate drastically, potentially from .01% (the randomized list) to as high as 5% (the AI-generated list). You can imagine the profound impact this can have on an organization!
The first step is to get your data cleaned and organized. Your data is likely too disparate for AI to use in its current state. It may be scattered across emails, excel files, presentations, and so on. Streamlining everything into one accessible place across your organization is the best first step you can take.
Managing data for its entire lifecycle
Something our clients often share that they have years and years of data available to pull from. They want to hand over sales data going back to the ’90s and hit the ground running with it. It’s natural to think the more data, the better, right? However, data can become stale, and at a certain point it will no longer reflect the underlying phenomenon that you’re trying to predict.
In the outbound mailer scenario, data from 2005 won’t serve you well if it’s mixed with more recent data. The underlying factors and motivations for purchasing are different. Knowing when to get rid of data is just as important as managing new data.
Customer data platforms
Beyond basic transactional data, you want to collect the right data about your customers. You don’t want to collect everything just because you can; that can be both costly and lead to a bad customer experience.
Knowing how and why your customers are buying from you is a good starting point for thinking about what data you need to collect. Go after what is truly important to your business and you’ll see the greatest rewards for your efforts.
Increased use of cloud software and systems
There’s currently a trend toward more distributed systems, as we’re seeing with Web 3.0. Businesses want their data back. One of the challenges of cloud systems is that data possession is 9/10 of the law. Your data is not yours if it’s sitting on someone else’s servers, so we’re seeing businesses trend away from storing data with third parties.
Businesses are recognizing that they’re paying a lot to license and access their own data through APIs and are limited to their host’s terms of service. There’s also a small trend of people bringing their data onto the premises. It will be interesting to continue to watch this in the coming years and see how the distribution of data continues to evolve.
Data protection laws are driving increased penalties and regulations for data breaches, which means digital businesses have put a heavy emphasis on increased cybersecurity. This trend will drive investment in the use of AI to enhance cybersecurity, such as fraud detection for credit card and insurance companies, which has become a popular AI use case.
Innovating and Transforming Your Organization
There are a handful of areas where you can focus your digital innovation initiatives or transformation efforts. It all depends on how your company is structured and what your most immediate needs are.
An important area to examine is your relationships with your customers, partnerships, and suppliers. If you’re struggling to maintain a positive relationship due to faulty processes or inefficient technology, your bottom line could suffer. This is the first place you should look at when it comes to innovating your business technology.
Another beneficial area to examine is your internal processes. You should continually review your processes and systems to ensure they’re still a good fit for your business and produce the results you need to make informed decisions.
Establish KPIs so you can tell if your current technology is working for you or if it might be time to upgrade to new products that are more powerful, possibly with AI or machine learning capabilities. Getting the right digital processes in place will make a significant difference.
The Path to Transformation Starts With One Step
91% of businesses report that they have either already adopted or are planning to adopt a digital-first business strategy. It’s time to consider how digital innovation and transformation could impact your business.
At EnterBridge, we love helping clients transform their organizations through custom software and technology solutions, robotic process automation, and mobility support. Whenever you’re ready to take the first step toward a more powerful business, we’re here to guide you through a successful digital transformation.
In the meantime, check out more resources on our blog to learn more about our services and how they can help your business.