In the future, all companies will be digital businesses, said Nana Bule, CMO at Microsoft Denmark, at the autumn seminar on digital transformation and CRM hosted by MicroPartner.
What is digital transformation? To understand digital transformation, we need to understand how the business is being transformed, Nana Bule opens. The location is MicroPartner’s morning seminar on digital transformation and CRM, held at Microsoft in Lyngby on October 25, 2016.
On one hand, the concept of digital transformation can quickly become very flighty and buzz-like, without any real touch on reality. On the other hand, digital transformation is most often articulated and explained solely as disruption, where companies and entire industries practically throw everything overboard and start again.
“Digital transformation is not necessarily about throwing everything overboard, but about how we can use our data and knowledge to enrich the company and its offerings to customers and develop an adapted or new business model that keeps up with the times,” says Nana Bule.
In the future, all companies and organisations will think and act as digital companies, using technology to create new business opportunities. According to Nana Bule, digital transformation can be described by four main trends.
Engage your customers
“Today, it is not enough to understand our customers’ needs in a reactive way,” Nana Bule says about the first trend. “Based on the data and the knowledge we hold, we must anticipate customer needs and proactively reach out to provide better service and offer the full customer experience.”
In the future we will use technology even more than we do today to interact with customers and let them serve themselves, explains Nana Bule: “We will be thinking about Conversations as a Platform and considering which technologies can help support the conversations, such as bots, intelligent agents and machine learning, which constantly learn and become smarter through the environments they operate in, and can translate as a conversation progresses.”
Empower your employees
Over the past decade, Microsoft’s core business has focused on the other trend in digital transformation: making employees mobile and able to work anywhere, anytime.
“At Microsoft, we do not believe that work is a place – it is an activity. We must release our collective intelligence in collaboration and meetings between people,” says Nana Bule; “Research shows that much of the value is created in informal meetings between people across organisational boundaries. Eventually, technology will energise the random interactions between humans and provide me with knowledge of what people around me are working on, and who is working on something that resembles what I am doing.”
Optimise your operations
The third trend is about how we will continue to use data to optimise processes and refine products. “In the future, we will not only think in terms of physical products, we will be thinking of how we can enrich our products with intelligence and service,” says Nana Bule, illustrating her point with some examples:
A lift company no longer sees itself just as a supplier of the physical lift, but as a provider of a service which ensures that people can move up and down between floors. So they assume responsibility for the lift always being in order by predicting when the lift needs to be serviced – not based on a fixed time interval, but on information about operation and wear.
DAMCO makes its living from bringing ships to the right port via the fastest route. It requires insight into currents, weather and politics on the route from A to B – data DAMCO already collects, but now offers its customers as a service which helps customers make better-informed decisions.
Transform your products
This trend is typically the one we read about in the media, says Nana Bule. Who is the Uber of my industry? How do I get ahead of them?
“It’s about how the company can improve its product through data, or create an additional product. Once the company has insight, why not turn this insight into a standalone product or sell it on top of existing products?” Nana Bule asks the audience, following up with a few examples: the wind turbine manufacturer who collects weather data, and is in the process of developing a product which allows it to sell the climate data, as well as finance solution Dinero which uses pattern recognition in data to suggest to the user how to post a given invoice.
All companies will become digital businesses
Nana Bule finishes where she began: By stating that in the future, all companies will be digital businesses, and you should therefore consider all four dimensions of digitisation when developing a future business model.