Digitalization becomes make or break for companies in 2021


If there’s anything that the COVID-19 pandemic showcased, it’s the soaring weaknesses that have been swept under the rug by individuals, governments, and businesses for too long.

COVID-19’s reach touched many aspects in our everyday lives, from personal medicine, to our understanding of the global economy; changes need to be made, and fast, especially for businesses that have struggled to survive during the worldwide lockdown.

The main virtue for businesses, is increasing their digitalization efforts.

The pandemic forced most of the planet to lock itself indoors and rely on the Internet to remain connected to the outside world, whether for grocery shopping or resuming their professional lives.

This sent a clear message to business owners: keep up with the technologically evolving state of the market or suffer.

This is a tricky time for companies, as many have been finding it rather difficult to adapting to digitalization, as they need to act quick to jump on the bandwagon or risk choosing the wrong path.

Kodak is considered as the poster child of missing the mark.

Once the world’s market leader in photography, Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012 due to their consistent failure to dabble in digital technology for fear of endangering its business with analog products.

This is a company that invented the first digital camera back in 1975; yet it underestimated the disruptive impact of technological change, and fell, hard.

Defining Digitalization

Take a moment to think about the number of services you have available to you on your phone.

Need to go somewhere? Uber. Need a place to stay? Airbnb. Need to buy something? Amazon.

While these are a handful of examples from a sea of options, they enjoy a pedigree of what digitalization is all about. This digital transformation presents companies the ability to disrupt the market by forcing traditional companies and their business models to keep up or fall.

Physical products or processes are being replaced by digital solutions with the aid of information technology, business models are being revolutionized and corporate structures altered. The focus is increasingly on networking and exchange of information between companies and the customers.

According to a study conducted by the Technical University of Munich, emerging technologies such as virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will create fundamental change in products, business models and production processes between 2020 und 2040.

“The percentage of services in the value-added chain has been increasing constantly for years. The digitalization and the accompanying technologies available for it are driving the service orientation of companies dramatically forward,” the study highlighted. 

Services are becoming ever more important, because goods in many fields are becoming more and more homogenous and similar and therefore, easily exchanged. “Companies are finding new sales and profit potential by setting up or expanding their services in that they develop and market new offers, service new markets and customers and establish new business models,” the study added.

In parallel, a new report published by IDC found that, despite a global pandemic, direct digital transformation (DX) investment is still growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5% from 2020 to 2023 and is expected to approach $6.8 trillion as companies build on existing strategies and investments, becoming digital-at-scale future enterprises.

The impact of new tech

There is no doubt, that innovative and disruptive technologies are supercharging the race to full digitalization.

According to Germany-based market research company, Bitkom, cloud computing is the most important digital technology being used, followed by big data analytics. Future growth will be determined by the Internet of Things, 3D printing, virtual/augmented reality and even by blockchain, even if at a low level.

“We call it intelligent digital network,” David Cearley, Gartner Vice President, was quoted as saying, adding that “digital decisionmakers, CEOs, CIOs and production managers have to act now to stay competitive in the future.”

The obstacles

The bottom line is that the rate of digital transformation varies from one industry to another, creating a gap between big-budget companies and their smaller counterparts, according to a report by Amsterdam-based management consulting firm, BearingPoint.

The report argued that consumers have long become accustomed to dealing with digital offers and a desire for innovation remains unbroken.

“But real implementation as managers or employees is more difficult. We want to implement the digital transformation, but we can’t readily find the right way,” the report added, highlighting that whoever wants to successfully navigate the digital transformation, must not only have a plan in mind, not only control the technology, processes and tools – but also be willing to take on a whole new culture.

“A culture in which change is routine and consequently speed, innovative power and learning from mistakes is a prerequisite for success,” it further explained.

A digital strategy, or lack thereof

Employees find themselves stuck in a gap of being uninformed regarding their employer’s digital strategy, which streamlines a level of confusion across different company levels on where the organization prioritizes its trajectory.

This creates little progress in the digitalization of products and services.

“Unfortunately, it is not only the corporate structure that is slowing down, but also IT. It continues to lag behind modern requirements with almost unchanged data silos and rigid legacy systems,” a report by Fujitsu highlighted.

The digital dream team

With the trend of digitization on the rise, enterprises are scrambling to bring together digital teams to bring their businesses, products, and services online.

Since there is a lot of work to be done, numerous roles are necessary for a company to be fully able to make the digital leap forward; according to Jimmy Khoriaty, a software project management consultant at Banque De France, there are six prime positions that need to be filled to have your own digital dream team.

Let’s jump right in.

Chief Data Officer

A CDO oversees a range of data-related functions that may include data management, ensuring data quality, and creating data strategy. They may also be responsible for data analytics and business intelligence, the process of drawing valuable insights from data.

“These highly skilled professionals can look at blueprints, align IT tooling with information assets, and connect to the business strategy,” Khoriaty told Inside Telecom.

Database Administrator

“Data digitization is happening right now and at a very large scale,” Khoriaty argues. As organizations embrace increasing platform-as-a-service, the good old database admin will prove their weight in gold.

The role of a database admin is to store and manage data; they also tend to other responsibilities such as capacity planning, installation, configuration, database design, migration, performance monitoring, security, troubleshooting, as well as backup and data recovery.

Chief Digital Officer

Chief digital officers lead the digital initiatives line, according to Khoriaty.

“Every company needs a digitally savvy person at the CXO level who will help other executives buy into the culture change,” he added.

CDOs are the main driving force behind a company’s digitization efforts, allowing them to manage cloud architects, while having the final say in what should be done.

Cloud Architect

“Cloud is where everything is currently headed,” Khoriaty notes.

Thus, cloud architects design cloud-based solutions that answer a project’s technical requirements. They test and implement digital solutions that optimize the organization’s workflow, driving growth and keeping the organization competitive.

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

With the increase in cyberattacks across the board, companies need to keep their platforms safe against hackers that will look to exploit their customers, as well as their firewalls.

“A security officer establishes and enforces security protocols in an organization’s infrastructure. They monitor the network, making sure that everyone follows the protocols, thus, mitigating security breaches,” Khoriaty told Inside Telecom.

UX expert

UX or User Experience experts are at the forefront of any company looking to make the digital leap, since “at the end of the day, a product or a service is an experience,” Khoriaty highlighted.

While UX experts are in charge of designing user-interfaces optimized for user-computer interaction, they also have the ability to map customer and employee touch points that allows to identify gaps and opportunities to capitalize on.

As companies from every sector look to cash in on disruptive technologies to increase their profit, and keep up with the competition, digitalization finds itself at the bedrock of these efforts to progress forward.