Understanding digital transformation

Successful digital transformation relies on a smart digital strategy to make wise investment choices to maximise competitive advantage, growth, profit, and value, and then implementing effectively.

Assess the strategic impact
Good digital strategy, or Strategic Digitisation Programs (SDP), starts with understanding the competitive environment and how it’s likely to change. Because new technology reshapes business, it’s essential to think beyond your own organisation and consider your customers, suppliers and partners. Going beyond comfort zones requires taking an end-to-end view of your business and operating models, but it is vital to do so. McKinsey identifies that organisations that make minor changes to the edges of their business model nearly always fall short of their goals.

The impact and opportunities of digital transformation vary. Business processes can be reinvented, such as invoice automation and removing manual processes, and some can be completely transformed, such as supply chain resilience. But while outcomes will vary significantly by industry, a few common themes have recently emerged:

Supply-chain transparency and flexibility
Organisations with full supply-chain transparency, and the ability to detect purchase-pattern changes, have done a better job navigating the fluctuations in supply of recent items. Managing your supply chain, and the risks involved, is absolutely critical to your organisation’s financial health and competitive performance. As we are seeing, the negative impact of global events on an organisation’s financial position or reputation is potentially huge, even devastating.

But effective management of your supply chain is the only route to resilience, as it:

  • improves the financial position of your organisation by delivering value across the chain;
  • plays a significant role in customer satisfaction through the delivery of products and services;
  • reduces operating costs from Procurement activities, through operations and logistics functions and throughout the whole supply chain.

Remote workforces and automation
Another common theme is the widely held desire to build on the flexibility and diversity brought through remote working.

Gartner CFO Survey has revealed that 74% intend to shift employees to remote work permanently. And in a PwC survey of 669 CEOs, 78% agree that remote collaboration is here to stay for the long-term. This makes process automation and working in cloud environments a necessity.

Thankfully, there are many solutions that can be implemented quickly to help and are now at the forefront of operations. For example, using a cloud-based Accounts Payable (AP) automation tool to automate the invoicing process while ensuring policies are being met will mean your business can receive, approve, process and pay invoices no matter where people are working and without disruption.

The pandemic has exposed many companies for not being able to react quickly to changing requirements and demands. However, it has also highlighted that many processes can now be done remotely and in much less time.

Technology and culture
An ambitious digital strategy inevitably calls not only for new capabilities, but also cultural shifts. So, do your research and make a compelling case to your organisation. ALL of your organisation.

Adoption of new technology is one of the most prominent areas where technology fails most in organisations and effective adoption is only possible with planning and preparation. Bring people into the discussion at an early stage – the team, stakeholders, the community – and make them feel like they are invested themselves. Make it part of their journey, and emphasise the improved user experience and how it will make life easier. For example, in the case of procurement, making it easier for employees to order what they need, managers to review and approve those requests, and department heads to see the impact of spending on their respective budgets.

The good news is that newer cloud-based procurement applications, such as tools from Proactis, focus on driving adoption through a user experience. Employees no longer need to search through offline catalogues for what they need, walk around with the requisition and chase down approvals. All relevant corporate buying policies, catalogue items from preferred suppliers, other relevant punch-out suppliers and access to expert buying support is available online.