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Digital business trends in 2019

Scott Gibson

Scott Gibson

Group Executive – Digital Business Solutions, Dimension Data

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Trend 1: Organisations are restructuring to get ready for digital transformation

Most companies aren’t structured correctly for digital transformation. They’re organised in silos around traditional functions instead of having a flexible network of teams that work on transforming key business processes.

The focus of many digital transformation efforts to date has been on the adoption of new technologies. But without first doing some organisational redesign, this has been like forcing a square peg into a round hole.

We're now seeing more companies accepting that to transform successfully, they must first redesign their core business processes around the customer experience, and then reorganise the enterprise to align with these digital processes.

Not every company wants – or needs – a radical, non-hierarchical structure like some digital natives have adopted. Most, however, should start by adding a network of project-based teams tasked with transforming particular areas.

In 2019, we expect more enterprises to abandon their ‘technology first’ attempts at digital transformation and embrace a ‘customer first’ approach. Our recently published Digital Means Business report found that 72% of organisations rate improving their customer experience as the most important benefit of digital transformation. Successful transformers will focus on what their customers want, use data to understand them, innovate relevant offerings, redesign business processes, restructure the organisation around them, and – only then – implement enabling technologies.

Trend 2: IoT is starting to deliver ROI

Some of our clients are starting to see a positive impact on corporate profitability from their Internet of things (IoT) implementations, and we expect this trend to accelerate in 2019.

The kind of projects that produce a concrete financial improvement tend to be those that look at data through a new lens and apply IoT at multiple points in the value chain. The best business outcomes are obtained when you use IoT to monitor an entire business process and blend your own data with third-party sources. 

The Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation, for example, is using IoT throughout the process of growing, transporting, and processing sugar cane. This is increasing their efficiency at every point and improving corporate profitability.

They use it to monitor the water levels in fields, rivers, and reservoirs. They combine this with remotely gathered data on crop growth and health. They inject external weather forecast data and consider the cost of the electricity required to pump water for irrigation.

They use sensors to track the location of trucks delivering raw cane to their refineries to avoid it perishing and ensure a constant supply for uninterrupted production. As their CIO, Rob Coombe, says, ‘You can’t go digital in silos. It has to be done holistically to work.’

Driven by IoT and advanced analytics, we designed a set of connected offerings that help the sports and entertainment industry embrace digital and provide an improved customer and athlete experience. Find out more about how we’re using these innovation to revolutionise the viewing experience of fans at the Tour de France.

B2B trading platforms are coming… and #IoT is finally shifting from theory to practice and starting to deliver true #ROI. Read 5 ways digital business is set to evolve next year in @DimensionData’s Technology Trends 2019 report.Tweet this

Trend 3: Ready-made platforms are accelerating digital transformation

Accelerated digitalisation is achieved by those who don’t try to build everything bespoke, but rather exploit ready-made platforms that get them most of the way to their goals a lot faster.

We’ve seen implementation timescales in our SAP practice, for example, slashed for clients that adopt industry verticalised versions of the application rather than customising the generic version. Customisation is still possible, but starting from a verticalised version could cut a project from 12 months to 12 weeks. 

Platform adoption is getting more popular in the infrastructure space too, due to the unpredictability of the digital world. Buying into a pre-built platform that can adapt quickly is increasingly preferred to building and owning your own.

Consuming information technology as a managed service not only increases agility and speed of execution, it reduces compliance and security risks. This allows organisations to pay for services as they use them.

Our Digital Means Business report of 2018 found that 60% of organisations are engaging in digital transformation through outsourcing and partnering. The Technology Industry Services Association confirms in their State of Managed Services 2018 that technology-managed services are growing at 40%. We can only see the trend towards ready-made platforms and managed services increasing.
Barloworld Equipment and Handling decided to move their sales management capabilities from a standalone solution implemented 12 years previously to a cloud-based extension of its enterprise SAP platform. This would not only increase their ability to provide time to value for customers, it would be a beneficiary of time to value itself. Learn more about how Britehouse, a Dimension Data company, helped.

Trend 4: Digital leaders are looking at data through a new lens

Old ways of looking at data aren’t cutting it. More and more of our digital transformation engagements with clients are starting with major data engineering exercises. 

A lot of data in organisations isn’t structured appropriately for analysis. They have data they don’t need, and need data they don’t have. They need to add new kinds of data from external sources to shed new light on their businesses, and they need to focus on different metrics.

Some of our clients had been using traditional metrics like stock turnover to manage their inventory. To help them with this we developed a new inventory index that shows if each line item is overstocked, understocked, or at the ideal level. By factoring in consumption rates, forward demand, and lead times, it shows the savings possible from reducing overstocks, and flags which lines risk going out of stock.

Britehouse, a Dimension Data company, recently helped ArcelorMittal South Africa implement such a solution.  Sarel Emmerick, the company’s Senior Consultant, SAP Strategy and Strategic SAP Project Management explains:

‘Our brief to Britehouse was to take a potentially complex science like MRP and to simplify it. They returned with a concept called I-Squared and immediately we knew that they were onto something. They were able to provide us with a new management view on the health of our inventory through a simplified metric and the ability to drill down into a granular level thereby assisting decision making and more effective management of our inventory.’

We’ve also developed a customer tenancy model – an index of how much space a customer should occupy in the organisation’s mind because they represent either a risk or an opportunity. The index scores the likelihood of revenue growth or decline by customer, product, and for the organisation as a whole. It can be used to inform decision making on customer contact management, marketing, and product development. 

Trend 5: B2B digital trading platforms are coming

One of the biggest growth areas in 2019 will be business-to-business digital trading platforms.

Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP, predicts a world where customers connect directly into your supply chain, and I agree with him. The advantages, both in terms of customer experience and operational efficiency, are too exciting to ignore.

If you can show business clients not just current stock levels but the expected date of replenishment, they’ll be more confident about ordering from you. If they can give you better data on their future demand, you can optimise your inventory and production accordingly. 

We anticipate future integration will go further. Beyond today’s supply chain collaboration linked to ERP, we’ll see integration with CRM systems featuring artificial intelligence and robotic process automation. These will allow consumers to reach right back to your supplier’s inventory through their mobile apps. That’s true digital business.

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