Why transformation hinges on culture and process

The real challenges of fulfilling a digital strategy are people and process, writes Tom O’Hagan, founder and CEO at Virtual1.

While all too often described as a purely technology trend, I think that enterprise digitisation is better reflected as a seismic shift in wider culture, rather than in technology. Consumers are in control like never before and that is putting increased pressure on businesses to compete, innovate, reduce time to market, and to better service their customers.

It is this process of businesses rising to these challenges that I would use to define enterprise digitalisation. Technology will be a key enabler of this change, and on that is being accelerated through the falling costs of both technology and connectivity.

For me there are 3 key goals in digital transformation:

It has never been easier to compare products and services. This accessibility means that competition is fierce and no longer confined to the high street, or the city, or even country, but a truly global marketplace. This makes innovation and speed to market critical to business performance. Digital native businesses (those started in the last 10 years) are at clear advantage here, their people and processes are already set up to move quickly and this is applying pressure on industry incumbents to step up.

Optimising performance
People-heavy processes can act as a handbrake to business performance, from increased bottom line costs (especially in a 24/7 marketplace), to the introduction of human errors, or the speed at which they can be performed. That is not to say that people are irrelevant, far from it they are still critical in many aspects, but decisively, they no longer needed in all processes. Successful optimisation relies on striking this balance

Customer Satisfaction
With innovation being one pillar of standing out form the crowd, customer service is clearly the other, especially for the myriad of businesses who are a reseller or aggregator of others products and services. The key battle ground here is in communication, an area that is unrecognisable now from 5 years ago. From single channel to multi-channel, to now omni-channel. Consumers want to deal at a time and medium of their choice, and expect a company to respond to them there.

The real challenges of fulfilling a digital strategy are people and process. A digital strategy is not simply about updating or replacing existing processes, it’s about significant business change. It requires a different outlook and a culture that embraces constant change. Take retail for example – product offerings used to be updated seasonally, then weekly, Amazon now update their store front every 90 seconds.

Those businesses that really grasp this will be the ones that define the next ten years of commerce. Consider the world’s largest content provider, accommodation provider or taxi company, none of which now own their assets, simply the interface that links supply and demand.

in this context, business leaders need to ensure that they don’t fall into the trap of expecting technology alone to solve their challenges. For real transformation, culture and processes are just as, if not more important than the technology, and crucially, much more difficult to change. This change will of course look different for every business. This is why Virtual1 is focused on providing a highly flexible technology infrastructure and framework upon which to build these new ways of working.

Recognising the underlying trends of digital transformation, we at Virtual1 are driving innovation. In the next six months we are rolling out full automation across our entire network to drive down our speed to delivery, ensure absolute consistency of build, and to empower our partners to be able to make their own configuration changes directly. This not only optimises our delivery and service performance, but when combined with continued investment in our 1Portal product, it puts customer satisfaction at the heart of our approach.

It is this understanding of the market and the challenges that all businesses are facing that drives our strategy to deliver a personalised cloud for each of our partners. By bringing together solutions, they in turn can provide a successful platform onto which their customers can set about transforming their business.