The global pandemic accelerated technology adoption trends by several years. All sectors and regions were forced to adapt and evolve how they did business. Social distancing meant that face-to-face meetings became digital. Companies selling to consumers had to meet new buyer expectations, and B2B sales strategies shifted dramatically.
Infrastructure and capability changes that happened over a relatively short period will be here for the long haul. According to McKinsey, only 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales. Additionally, around 70% – 80% of B2B decision-makers prefer remote interaction and digital self-service. These figures make sense when you consider reduced travel expenses, easier scheduling, and a more focused work-life balance that’s now preferred by many.
The world has changed, and technology now provides the platform to evolve business operations and gain a lasting competitive advantage.
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation (DX) is the move from analog to digital processes. But it’s also much more than that, encompassing:
- The technology you use
- How and where data is stored
- Your business’ operational processes
- The way you bring systems and employees together
- How your company adapts to market changes
A well-planned digital transformation strategy allows you to leverage digital technologies to create or modify business processes. These changes support evolving business goals, bring efficiency and improve customer value. The value to customers isn’t always immediately apparent but can range from creating better customer experiences that increase loyalty to streamlining internal processes to help companies serve their customers more effectively.
Big data is a growing opportunity (and a challenge) for many companies. According to Statista, the amount of data collected is expanding rapidly – from 2 zettabytes (2 billion terabytes) to an estimated 181 zettabytes globally by 2025.
Big data refers to data that is so extensive and complex that it’s extremely difficult to understand and process using traditional means. AI, however, is changing how big data is processed and used.
Data can only create a competitive advantage if that data makes sense and aligns with effective digital processes. AI combines big data with intelligent algorithms and uses fast, iterative processing to learn from patterns within that data.
AI is enabling businesses to gain better insights and drive more efficient operations across the company. These efficiency gains include:
- Improved financial risk analysis
- Cash flow predictions
- Customer lifetime value estimations
- Likelihood of customer repeat business
- Supply chain problem and solution identification
And the list goes on. Data is the new gold, and AI using that data allows companies of all sizes to gain real-time insights and predictive analysis. The digital transformation opportunities are significant, with AI driving more informed strategic decisions.
In Q1 and Q2 of 2021 alone, global 5G connections increased 41% from 305 million to 429 million. It’s clear the world is accessing more data, and people want it faster than ever before.
As many companies were forced to work remotely during COVID-19, they realised the need for high-speed data access. In addition, many companies returning to hybrid remote and in-office environments now need seamless continuation of fast data to support their workforces.
5G brings speeds 10x faster than existing 4G technology – and it’s this speed that makes it an emerging technology driving digital transformation. When switching from an in-office environment to being out on the road or working remotely, accessing your business data and systems at consistent speeds helps employees maintain their productivity.
References to “cloud computing” have been documented as early as 1996, with the first known mention in a Compaq internal document. Cloud computing has since become the great business equaliser. It used to be that only enterprise organisations could afford the on-premise server, data and backup equipment needed to run sophisticated business applications. Over the years, cloud-based applications have become mainstream, bringing the same technology large corporations use to companies of all sizes.
The list of benefits that businesses realise from cloud computing is extensive. A few of the highlights include:
Reduced setup and maintenance costs
Implementation of cloud solutions is much faster than traditional on-premise applications, which cuts down the services component. There’s also no costly server equipment or expert resources needed to maintain them. Updates happen automatically in the background, so there’s no system downtime or update costs involved.
The moment you need to meet increased customer and transactional demand, it’s available. Licensing allows you to grow and reduce your infrastructure requirements as needed without purchasing or setting up additional equipment.
Speed and performance
Speed to market can bring significant competitive advantage. Cloud solutions allow you to add applications, functionality, and new features faster and see ROI sooner. Cloud providers also have extensive resources available, which can be added quickly to account for system user increases, website traffic surges, and other demand spikes. Cloud solutions keep performance optimised regardless of changing requirements, unlike on-premise options where hardware needs to be added to keep up.
Cloud applications place massive importance on security. NetSuite, for example, employs robust 256-bit encryption and password protocols, IP address restrictions, and idle disconnection. The company even uses role-based access with complete system audit trails to ensure users only see and work on business data that’s relevant to them. Most companies with critical business data on a server in their back-office don’t come anywhere near this level of protection.
Cloud software providers generally have data redundancy measures in place. Business data is stored in multiple server locations to ensure data is kept safe no matter what happens in one geography.
Businesses gaining the most value from cloud platforms view the implementation as a digital transformation. Critical aspects of this transformation include:
- Understanding how and where a cloud infrastructure can increase productivity, deliver better customer outcomes, and ultimately boost operating profit.
- Creating or modifying business processes that complement cloud-based infrastructure.
- Selecting cloud technology platforms that support the business’ goals and are a long-term solution.
When implemented correctly, a cloud ERP system isn’t just another application in your technology stack. Instead, it’s a foundation for your business that creates a framework of flexible digital processes.
Companies using multiple systems often end up with disjointed processes. For example, sales use one system and follow one process, finance follows another, customer service another, and so on. This process complexity becomes a roadblock when your company begins to scale its operations.
Cloud ERP software acts as the central source of truth. The application becomes the single back-end platform bringing together all core business functions. Inventory, CRM, sales and marketing, project management, HR, and more are managed within one ERP system.
The implementation of an ERP is just as important as the software itself. When set up by a team of cloud technology experts, company-wide best-practice processes are put in place. This approach puts everyone on the same page, increases digital process efficiency, and creates a holistic solution that enables rapid scalability. Automation of repetitive tasks can then be built into finance, supply chain, sales and marketing, inventory, and more. Real-time visibility across all business operations also leads to faster, more accurate decision-making.
See our 90-second explainer video about ERP systems for more information.
An application programming interface (API) is an interface built above an application that allows other applications to access, modify, and create data. As revealed in the 2021 Mulesoft Connectivity Report, 34% of companies say legacy IT infrastructure and systems are their main challenge to digital transformation. The integration of applications made possible by APIs overcomes this challenge to connect systems and enable digital transformation across the business.
APIs can be used in an almost limitless number of ways to improve system and process efficiency. From end to end workflow automation to building better customer experiences, APIs connect your technology touchpoints and allow you to continually expand your digital strategy.
Cloud ERP systems like NetSuite include native API functionality. This allows you to connect seamlessly to any external system while still building the one source of truth for all critical business data within your core ERP solution.
Work with the right technology partner to empower your digital transformation
Working with the right technology partner is just as important as developing the optimal business transformation strategy.
When it comes to cloud ERP systems, an experienced ERP partner will become a critical part of your digital transformation journey. They will take the time to understand your business goals and tailor a solution that focuses on the outcomes. This type of partnership, like a digital transformation strategy, is long-term and can continue providing value well into the future.
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+ projects on time and to budget. The cloud ERP experts form lasting relationships with their 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 your digital transformation. Take the next step to leap ahead.