You can’t read the technology media today without finding out about another remarkable digitalisation story and how exciting new digital implementations are revolutionising the way that companies are doing business. The trouble with all these headline-grabbing examples is that they have led to many companies equating digitalisation with dazzling projects focused on flashy websites, cool-looking mobile apps or wearables.
In fact, by considering digitalisation to be only about innovative technologies or revolutionary use cases, these companies are missing out on maximising the opportunities that digitalisation could offer them. You see, digitalisation is really about leveraging existing investments in IT and technology. Even very simple digital projects can still have a significant effect on a business. I urge companies not to get dazzled by digitalisation, but instead to look at how even small projects can help them meet their business objectives.
If you look at retailers for example, most have good traffic into their stores, but not everybody who comes through the doors buys something. What if that is because what the customers were looking for isn’t on the shelves in the size or color they want? Even if that item is on a rack in the changing room, or in the storeroom, that’s a sale they have potentially lost to their competitors. But there’s a way of improving this situation and translating footfall to more purchases. It is far from exciting, but it is cost effective and extremely effective.
Most retailers already have made a significant investment in technology – they generally have point of sales systems and IT infrastructure including Wi-Fi networks. We’d suggest simply adding RFID tags to all the inventory, and connecting these to a RFID receiver, via existing Wi-Fi technology, and interfacing this with existing POS systems. Then when customers visit, if what they want is not immediately apparent, one of the associates can immediately locate it for them, wherever it has ended up. This simple, un-jazzy application that is inexpensive, and that can be implemented with no disruption, can also play a significant role in helping drive revenues. Tagging inventory in this way can leverage existing IT infrastructure, making previous IT investments work even harder. At Fujitsu we believe hyper connectivity, like this, is key to modern, Connected Retail.
Another example of where a company’s IT plumbing can be optimised to deliver a digital output is in the banking industry, where digitalisation can improve customer and employee experience. Take the example where a bank wanted to create better content for its high net worth individuals. These individual investors generally receive visits from the bank’s financial advisors, who update them on how their investments are going, the trends they are seeing, and make recommendations for the future. They used to carry huge paper files to give to their clients, but today these customers really expect them to have all the data at their fingertips on a tablet. This not just improved of the efficiency of the Investment adviser, but created a unique and personalized user experience for the customer. Another advantage of leveraging digital to its fullest potential.
The challenge here is that banks are one of the most legacy-oriented businesses today – they tend to still rely on mainframe systems to manage their huge data processing requirements. Unfortunately for many potential digitalisation projects, mainframes don’t speak to the web, so can’t connect to mobile devices or tablets. So the challenge is to capture some of the mainframe’s outputs using a service oriented architecture, and then make that output available on the web so that the information can be shared with the customer via a tablet. Again, this is not a very glamorous implementation, but this helps banks achieve the technical equivalent of using a tablet to access a digital copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In fact, the banking industry is particularly ripe for leveraging digitalisation, and there is great potential for optimising the lifespan of existing IT investments while giving customers access to the online transactions and services they desire.
Not only is this ‘bridging’ approach effective, it is not nearly as complex as you might think. At Fujitsu we focus on end-to-end digital transformation that eliminates any potential disconnect between back-end systems and the ever-changing customer or employee facing technology. We call this Enabling Digital. So don’t be dazzled by the flashy digitalisation projects you hear about. Take another a look at the problems your business is trying to solve. There’s likely to be scope for optimising the technology plumbing that you have, or efficiencies to be exploited by integrating some simple projects. Digitalisation really is for everyone.
Have you missed some of my blog series on avoiding the 10 pitfalls of digital transformation? If so please read the full series here: http://blog.global.fujitsu.com/?s=Pitfalls