Building the engine that drives digital transformation


This is the consensus view of an MIT Technology Review Insights survey of 210 members of technology leaders, conducted in March 2021. These interviewees say they need – and often lack – the ability to develop new digital channels and services quickly, and to optimize them in real time.

The basis of these waves of digital transformation are two fundamental factors: the ability to serve and better understand customers, and the need to increase the ability of employees to work more effectively toward these goals.

Two-thirds of respondents indicated that the most efficient delivery of the customer experience was the most critical goal. This was closely followed by the use of analytics and insight to improve products and services (60%). The growth of team collaboration and communication, and the growth of digital asset and intellectual property security came in third overall, with about 55% each.

All digital goals are integrally linked to improving the engagement, retention and activation of customers and employees. Richard Jefts, vice president and general manager of Digital Solutions at HCL, notes that collaboration and growing team communication have received additional attention over the past year.

“With covid-19, management teams needed to ensure that businesses could continue at a distance, which meant new levels of collaborative adoption and the use of low code by employees to digitize business. business processes to fill gaps, ”says Jefts.

Miao Song, head of information for Brussels-based Mars Petcare, notes that digitalization has constantly redefined its company’s global pet nutrition and veterinary services businesses. “Our online business has seen double-digit growth, and the resulting volume of customer data allows us to predict better demand,” Song says.

Digital tools also allow more and better market data to be collected and used quickly. Song points out that AI-enabled image recognition tools are used by Mars vendors to scan vendor shelves and generate insight for better inventory management.

As Mars ’confidence in AI and analytics grows throughout the organization, it teaches many employees how to use low-code tools to strengthen their internal capabilities. Low-level coding is a software development approach that requires little or no coding to build applications and processes, allowing users without formal coding knowledge or software development to create applications.

“Everyone in our society needs to become a data analyst – not just members of the IT team,” says Song, speaking of Mars ’efforts to increase digital literacy in an attempt to improve visibility across the board. the company’s supply chain, refining pricing strategies, and developing new products and services.

Song notes that promoting the use of low-code development tools through hackathons and other activities has been an important part of Mars ’efforts:“ We need to break the notion that only IT can access and use our data resources, ”he adds.

The customer experience is (always) king

Respondents to the survey indicated that they had already seen significantly increased performance in customer experience processes since the digital processing companies. Moving into the next year, the customer experience continues to be a priority.


Respondents seek to improve digital channels in particular, followed by analytics and to support customization, and AI or automated customer engagement tools. Other digital competencies have been built to accommodate changes in customer and partner expectations and needs, simplifying customer experience processes by providing multi-experience capabilities.

Alan Pritchard, director of ICT services for Austin Health, a public hospital group based in Melbourne, Australia, explains that his company’s digital transformation process began to accelerate long before the impact of covid-19 it is implemented.

“A service review model in 2019 identified home-based monitoring and home care as critical to our future service delivery – so even before the pandemic, our healthcare strategy was focused on improving digital channels and increasing our ability to support people out of the hospital, ”says Pritchard, noting that to run on the outreach strategy of Austin Health, a common customer relationship management (CRM) platform it needed to be built.

“While some future models of services may be provided with telecare initiatives or with device integration, there is still a lot of work to be done looking at how to communicate electronically with people about their health status,” says Pritchard.

The organization’s common CRM platform is needed to host numerous autonomous specialty departments, “and each of them wants its own app to communicate electronically with its patients,” observes Pritchard.

The management of numerous separate app development processes is complex, although “there are common patterns in how departments engage with patients in the processes of booking, preparing and tracking appointments,” says Pritchard, “so we need a platform that is highly reusable, rather than a series of applications built on custom code. “

This, coupled with the need to distribute some control and customization across multiple departments, has led Prichard’s team down a low-code path.

This is largely correlated with the experiences of our survey cohort: more than 75% of respondents indicated that they have increased their use of digital development platforms (including low-cost code), and more than 80% have increased their use. investment priorities in workflow management tools in the last year.

Download u complete report.

This content was produced by Insights, the custom content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by the editor of the MIT Technology Review.

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