The past couple of years have been a business rollercoaster. Unexpected ups and downs had us hanging onto our seats at certain points. None of us were prepared for how COVID-19 would change the way we live and work in 2020.
Some businesses scrambled to continue operations amidst lockdowns and social distancing restrictions. Other companies, however, were already ahead of the curve. Those with cloud-based business systems responded to changes almost overnight. Workforces swiftly moved to remote work, and customers (in both the B2C and B2B spaces) connected with companies online.
Rapid digital adaptation became the priority in 2021. Remote and hybrid working environments were now familiar, but new challenges arose. As businesses everywhere transformed operations to meet customers’ expectations in the “new normal” of doing business, points of difference became less apparent. Companies with complex supply chains also felt the sting of disruptions and supply shortages. Continued lockdowns and restrictions in Australia caused product category demand shifts and unexpected spikes. Despite these complications, savvy companies already leveraging supply chain technologies like process automation and predictive demand were able to adapt and pivot strategies more rapidly.
The year ahead will bring an evolution of digital transformation that turns that business rollercoaster into a steady climb. Clever leaders have adopted and continue to drive digital transformation initiatives forward. They’ve realised it’s not just about keeping pace or implementing trend-driven solutions. With the proper business system framework, business leaders can significantly improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and uncover new levels of long-term profitability.
Let’s dive into how digital transformation will evolve even further in 2022.
Digital infrastructure to meet customer expectations
Customers and consumers now expect to be transacting digitally and seeing real-time information as the “new norm” of doing business. As a result, companies of all sizes are under pressure to have the adequate digital infrastructure to support customer needs, leverage real-time data, and operate more efficiently (and profitably).
Unfortunately, the 2021 MIT Sloan Management Review Report found that only 7% of all companies were rated as being “digitally savvy”. On the upside, those companies outperformed peers by as much as 48% on revenue and valuation, as well as 15% on net margin. In addition, top “digitally savvy” companies were shown to generate 59% of revenue from innovations they introduced within a three-year period. That’s more revenue than they derived from cross-selling activities.
According to the Australian Government Digital Transformation Agency, Australia currently ranks second in the world for the effectiveness of our digital government services. So it’s not surprising that many Aussie companies are already far into their digital transformation journeys.
Australian retailers, for example, have quickly transformed service offerings into omnichannel strategies. This shift meets the new demand of consumers digitally finding and researching products available in physical stores, and using stores to see and touch products that are available online. CB Insights cites that 75% of shoppers are using multiple channels to find discounts, compare prices, or use in-store tablets to browse products online. Stores are also becoming distribution points for online orders with increased capabilities for online to in-store returns and BOPIS (buy now, pickup in-store).
Wholesale distributors have also adapted rapidly. Wholesalers have realised they need to stand out from the crowd, and that they must meet evolving B2B customer expectations to remain competitive. As a result, wholesalers are now beefing up capabilities, including:
- Online portals for wholesale customers to view live product, pricing, and stock information.
- Business process automation (BPA) to do the heavy lifting of low-value tasks and return focus to customer experience initiatives.
- Integration of CRM with sales and inventory systems (or the use of an end-to-end ERP systems) to manage communications, anticipate needs and deliver better customer experiences.
There’s still more to consider as part of a wholesale digital transformation strategy. Access your complimentary business guide, Digital Transformation: Helping Wholesale Distributors Emerge Stronger, for further ideas.
Fintech onboard the digital transformation train
JP Morgan chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon captured headlines in 2021 when he said his Wall Street management team should be “scared s___less” of the fintech threat. It seems many are catching on to the power of modern fintech with many C-Level execs keeping pace with digital change.
As the pandemic accelerated the shift from physical to digital, the fintech industry had to arm businesses with powerful digital tools and processes. Changing consumer behaviours and buying patterns heightened preferences for cashless and contactless payments. But this was just the start.
Companies now understand the benefits of marrying fintech and internal business systems. For example, NetSuite recently announced it was the first cloud ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system to integrate fintech into its SuiteBanking function. SuiteBanking embeds fintech into a single cloud ERP application to automate key financial processes, improve forecasting, and make more strategic cash decisions.
Evan Goldberg, EVP, Oracle NetSuite explains, “At the core of it is AP and AR automation, accelerating productivity through efficiency, less entering of data, less dealing directly with the bank, less manual matching of transaction.
“Growing organisations cannot afford to have teams of people entering data, dealing with banks, monitoring transactions from multiple systems, and manually processing vendor payments. The time saved from automating these processes could be spent on strategic projects that help drive further growth for the organisation.”
In 2022, we’ll see an even faster evolution of fintech that focuses on less admin and more automation. And, we’ll see many more businesses using fintech in their digital transformation plans to generate a noticeable competitive advantage.
CFOs invested in digital transformation
CFOs in 2022 will prioritise selecting digital business systems with robust financial capabilities. Rather than choosing technologies based on market trends, CFOs will look to carefully define business and finance objectives and become an integral part of systems infrastructure decision-making.
Technology selection in 2022 will involve how digital systems measure, affect and improve key performance indicators (KPIs). Data and analytics will be key to understanding which digital processes need refining or reinventing.
Speaking of reinvention, the finance function has done precisely that in recent years. Oracle’s Agile Finance Unleashed report shows teams’ progress towards an agile finance operating model. This report demonstrates how leaders are evolving the finance function in response to digital processes and accelerating the adoption of new technologies.
Stand-out actions and qualities displayed by these digital finance leaders include:
- Automation of transactional tasks throughout the record-to-report process.
- Re-engineering of legacy finance processes to become more efficient.
- The adoption of advanced analytics tools with a deeper understanding of which data holds the most value.
- Actively working with other business units to improve business decision-making.
- Becoming widely recognised by other stakeholders as having high commercial acumen and business understanding.
CFOs are in a unique position to show the value of digital transformation initiatives. According to Gartner’s CFO Leadership Vision 2022 report, 76% of finance leaders say decision-makers increasingly have access to business operations and performance data through systems/providers outside of finance. Moreover, with the pace of digital reliance accelerating over the past couple of years, finance leaders will be driving digital transformation strategies in 2022 and beyond.
Democratisation of data and analytics
Democratisation is all about making data and analytics accessible to everyone, regardless of technical or IT know-how. With greater access, there’s no waiting around for one gatekeeper to run reports or bottlenecks to endure. A crucial part of democratisation is making that data easy for everyone to understand, use it to make better business decisions, and uncover new opportunities the business can leverage. Everyone should be able to work with data comfortably, have confidence talking about it, and make more informed decisions.
To leverage collective business experience and make confident, agile decisions, companies need to plan their transformation of data around key factors, including:
To respond quickly to changes, business teams need faster access to data. Companies have realised that cloud-based software is a must-have for distributed and remote workforces. More than just supporting remote working, access to information is also the foundation of predicting and adjusting to rapid market changes.
Some businesses still rely on key business users to run reports, consolidate with static spreadsheets, and distribute manually to stakeholders. It’s an ageing process that results in outdated information by the time it’s received and can’t support truly agile decision-making. Live reporting that’s accessible on-demand is now a requirement for businesses wanting to scale.
Interpretation and action
While business users generally have some level of data access and reporting, easily understanding that information is where things can come undone. Stakeholders now need low-touch, automated ways to see and compare reports, snapshots and KPIs, with the ability to drill down to more specific data when required. Well-presented data that requires little manual intervention will support decision-makers in taking action – quickly and confidently.
Many businesses simply don’t have the tools to see, understand, and action data. ERP (enterprise resource planning) software provides one back-end platform that brings together all core business functions. Inventory, CRM, sales and marketing, project management, HR, and more are managed within one business application. Cloud ERP options can also connect seamlessly via API to any external system, while still building the one source of truth for all critical data.
Additionally, a cloud ERP system manages secure, role-based access to business data regardless of where users are physically located. This role-based access ensures users see what’s relevant to their role without overloading them.
NetSuite is one cloud ERP system that uses an open API to consolidate data from any other system in real-time. Business users gain secure access and can clearly understand business trends, changes, and key data with live dashboards. Reports, snapshots, and KPIs are accessible from one screen, allowing decision-makers to assess and take action immediately.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen how unexpected changes can happen overnight. Instant, company-wide availability of data will be imperative in 2022. So, where’s the best place to start? Talk to a cloud technology expert about how an ERP platform creates the framework for your data and analytics transformation.
Technology partners that empower digital transformation
Working with the right technology partner is just as important as having your digital transformation strategy adequately planned out. An experienced partner can enhance and add value to your digital transformation through:
- Identification of optimal outcomes for your business type and industry.
- A deep understanding of transformation, having managed the end-to-end process for many other customers.
- A strong focus on short and long-term outcomes that align with your business objectives.
- Being the catalyst for your transformation journey, accelerating and keeping your business changes on track.
- Long-term accountability and support. A true technology partner will be there for you, well beyond your initial stages of transformation to ensure additional value is realised over time.
DWR delivers the tools to amplify success; by bringing the right cloud ERP technology, process framework, and team of business experts together. The team has executed 250+ technology projects on time and to budget. DWR forms lasting relationships with customers, consistently looking for ways to add value to new and existing implementations.
Talk to an ERP expert at DWR. They’ll give you the advice and ideas you need to build a core digital infrastructure that enables faster, more successful digital transformation. Take the next step to leap ahead.