Embracing the Future: How Digital Transformation is Revolutionizing Industries Worldwide

Mark Talmage-Rostron
October 24, 2023 · 9 min read

Any business worth its salt needs to embrace digital transformation, but at the same time, hire and retain top talent that can help businesses navigate the space and build the business and its profitability.

Like it or not, you can’t hide from the fact that we are deep into the digital era where businesses are using specific mediums to carve out a competitive advantage. Any business worth its salt needs to embrace digital transformation, but at the same time, hire and retain top talent that can help businesses navigate the space and build the business and its profitability.

To explore this exciting time for industries, and what it takes to truly transform a business in the digital era, Youri Doeleman, Partner at Antler, Nancy Dunn, Strategic Consultant at Digital Needle Consulting, and Fadl Al Tarzi, Nexford’s Founder and CEO met in a webinar to talk about one of the hottest topics in the business world, digital transformation. As a trio in the webinar, they took the time to break down the top challenges modern organizations now face as they go through their digital transformation journeys.

Businesses should not accept the status quo

Digital transformation is important for several reasons, and its significance has only grown over time. It encompasses the integration of digital technology into all aspects of an organization, fundamentally changing how it operates and delivers value.

7 reasons why companies need digital transformation

7 Reasons Why Companies Need Digital Transformation

  • Exceed customer expectations

  • Improve efficiency

  • Gain a competitive advantage

  • Realize cost savings

  • Enhance security

  • Increase agility

  • Deliver product innovation

Nancy started the ball rolling by saying that her company has been heavily involved in aiding companies along their digital transformation journey. She said, “I've done a lot of work around digital transformation for organizations to help them assess talent and the skills gap so that they can drive full change in the organization by having the right people doing the right jobs with the right skills.

People make digital transformation happen

Having the right people in place is crucial for the success of digital transformation for several reasons. The right people bring the necessary expertise and skill sets to the digital transformation effort. They understand the technology, tools, and processes required to implement digital initiatives effectively. People with experience in change management can help organizations navigate the cultural and organizational shifts that digital transformation entails. They can ease resistance, foster a culture of innovation, and ensure employees adapt to new ways of working.

Plus, having Innovators and creative thinkers is important as they can drive the development of new digital solutions, services, and business models. They can identify opportunities for disruptive innovation that can set their organization apart from competitors.

Regarding the people side of digital transformation, Youri jumped in by saying that having worked in multiple countries with people from different cultures and creeds, he understood a thing or two about change and change management. A lot of that has to do with disruption, but mostly, having the right people in the right positions, which is half the battle won.

Fadl stepped in at this point by sharing just how McKinsey defines digital transformation and that is, ‘Digital transformation is the rewiring of an organization, with the goal of creating value by continuously deploying tech at scale.’ He underlined that by saying that 89% of enterprises today feel digital transformation is a major priority, the challenge however is that most of those organizations also report that they don't have the skills needed to drive transformation. That means they are not prepared for that inevitable transformation.

In addition Fadl said, “The proof of that is that 75% of companies across the world are still operating legacy standards, meaning they have not gone through digital transformation, as a percentage of the world's GDP, the vast majority of the world's GDP is still run by traditional organizations. These companies are not the Apple’s or the Facebook's of the world, so that means there's massive room for transformation, which is going to have to happen over the coming years. Although it’s slightly concerning that many companies are behind the curve, it’s particularly exciting because it means there's plenty of new job opportunities that are going to be created.

As organizations adopt new digital technologies and systems, they’ll require skilled professionals to implement, maintain, and troubleshoot these technologies. This includes roles such as IT technicians, network administrators, cybersecurity experts, and software developers.

10 new digital transformation jobs and careers

10 New Digital Transformation Jobs

  • Business Process Manager

  • Business Development Manager

  • AI Developer

  • RPA Consultant

  • RPA Developer

  • Blockchain Developer

  • Cloud Engineer

  • ERP Consultant

  • Big Data Analyst

  • Business Intelligence Analyst

The devil is in the data

Nancy spoke about data and how important analyzing it is. She said, “Data has been a big driver of a lot of digital transformation, because there's a lot to be learned about a customer in terms of what they want, and what products they need.

Enter the Data Analyst. A specialist that crunches the numbers and through discovery, allows organizations to gain insights around what new products should be developed and what new products should be brought to market. But data analysis is not just about the people who perform it, it’s also about applications that sit on the cloud and all the technologies that support the data analysis.

Youri chipped in by saying that digital transformation really manifests itself in the value chain, and it all starts with an understanding of how it can affect customers. The cold hard fact is that digital transformation probably can play a new role in almost any part of your value chain. Highly important because the value chain is a series of activities that a company performs to design, produce, market, deliver, and support its products or services.

Yes, digital transformation can improve operational efficiency, customer engagement, and the overall competitiveness of an organization, however, it often requires strategic planning, significant investment, and a cultural shift within the organization to fully realize the benefits and align the value chain with the digital age.

So, the first thing you need to do is figure out how this actually affects your organization, but especially your customers. Then, when you start seeing the opportunities from your customers perspective, you can start thinking about what you need to do internally to start delivering on those promises.

Change the company strategy and you change the outcomes

Changing the company strategy when it comes to digital transformation can be a crucial step in helping the organization succeed in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. Adapting the company's strategy to leverage digital technologies can help it gain a competitive advantage.

This may involve offering innovative digital products or services that competitors do not provide or improving operational efficiency through digital means. In addition, a strategic shift toward digital transformation can make a company more appealing to talent. Skilled professionals are often attracted to organizations that embrace modern technologies and digital work practices. This will help close your digital transformation skills gap dramatically.

Youri backed that up by saying that doing that can help you rethink your entire business strategy from the lens of digital. It means a company might come to the conclusion that they can launch a new business line, which maybe you don't have at all, in the span of two or three years. Or, alternatively, kill off a line that is underperforming.

Know your customer better than your competitor does

While digital tools like AI can help in speeding and improving the digital transformation process, the problem with the technology is that it does not have a very deep understanding of the customer, which is of course one of the primary goals of any organization worth its salt.

On that topic, Youri was quick to point out that when looking at the customer a company should never get too obsessed with the tech as that means they will lose sight of what the customer really needs. Which is why it is best to seek out use cases for AI and ML for a particular industry and learn from that to really create value.

Once you have those use cases nailed down, it becomes interesting to think about what you are going to build in house, and what are you going to partner with other companies to collaborate and build different types of tech innovation.

When transforming don’t leave a backdoor open!

As organizations increasingly adopt digital technologies and undergo digital transformation, they face a growing number of cybersecurity challenges and concerns. A robust cybersecurity strategy should be an integral part of any digital transformation initiative. Organizations must continually adapt their security measures to address the evolving threat landscape and ensure the protection of their digital assets and data. That’s where employing cybersecurity experts in an organization that is transforming comes increasingly into play, as with the expansion of digital infrastructure, including cloud services, IoT devices, and mobile applications, the attack surface broadens as the data increases.

As Youri so eloquently put it, when you start working on cybersecurity there must be an understanding of data and how that data plays a role and operational processes throughout an organization. Once you can start mapping out the data and getting more comfortable with different types of data, then you can figure out what is an acceptable level of risk that you are willing to take on different types of data because not all data is born the same. And once you know that, then of course, you can start putting in place different types of measures and prevention's and so on to make sure that you're managing the security in a good way.

Make sure that you manage the change rather than have it manage you

As Fadl put it, technologies are great, but adoption is the most critical part of digital transformation. For the past few decades, we see that change management tends to be the biggest reason why some transformation projects fail as companies go to adopt new technology, but they’re not able to change.

change management essentials for digital transformation success

Change management must come from the top. It really must be embraced by the senior leadership team, most importantly, the CEO, who must really drive it across the organization. And to do that, the team really has to buy in because the real success of this change management really comes down to communication especially amongst the middle tier of management.

They often feel threatened, and challenged with the fact that all this change is happening, and their jobs and roles are changing. And if they are technophobes, the task will be made even harder to get them to transform.

Nancy put it in simple terms, “It’s kind of like trying to push a rock up a hill, so the big skills that are required in digital transformation are really shifting the thinking to digital first and data driven. This requires individuals to really think digitally by being data driven, like how do we move and move the needle forward by increments. That requires a lot of digital thinking around data. If we change this, what will happen? People must really think about how they're going to really drive change in the organization.

She went on to say that those are the two primary things organizations have to be thinking about. They must be thinking about how they get their employees to be data driven, and it's no longer just the finance people. It's the marketing people and the salespeople who can be solving problems from a data point of view. And then if they are a part of that process of coming up with a solution, then bring that back up to the executive level. Then you have a very tangible starting point where you can start to create value.

In closing Fadl said, “When you think about digital transformation, it's not about using shiny technology, it's about solving a real specific business challenge or business problem that businesses may have. And that's often the best way to be able to secure a budget and justify why one should be investing in a specific project and the people that will be required to run the project. And that's why we recently launched a Master of Science in Digital Transformation program.”

Keen to learn more about Nexford’s (MSc) in Digital Transformation degree? Check out this video.

About the author
Mark Talmage-Rostron
Mark Talmage-Rostron

Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.

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