Digital Transformation Journey of an Organization
Information Technology has been used by various manufacturing and service industries to automate processes, increase productivity, reduce cost, increase profitability and enrich customer experience. We will discuss each topic in detail as we go along.
Process automation has been a key boon for the industry. It has helped reduce deficiencies at each manual intervention level. With the advent of ERP in 1995, the entire organization started functioning as single oiled machinery. Business became transparent. Information silos were broken down. One big boost to employees came in the process of inter department interactions. This increased information sharing meant, that a production guy now knew about the materials function while a supply chain person got to know about frontline sales. This, in turn, made the organization agile.
Along with process automation came the daunting task of change management. While the obsolete processes were done away with, a major mindset change was required. This initiative will have to be driven by Human Resource and involve employees from top management to frontline workforce. Awareness programs, awards, rewards etc. can be used to drive change in the organization. To create a buzz change champions, need to be created and publicized in notice boards and through internal magazines. Small quiz and ticklers should be run to create awareness across the organization. An organization that can manage change well will always be ahead of competition.
After ERP came the e-Business model. This meant connecting to the extended Enterprise. While ERP helped put the internal house in order, eBusiness tools like customer and supplier portals, expense management, travel management etc. made the entire organization productive along with its external stakeholders. Free flow of information throughout the value chain made time to market faster and decision making swifter.
While IT continued to add value to the organizations it also started to evolve. New tools were introduced to increase productivity. Two such tools from top of the mind recall will be the mobile app for shop floor management and sales force automation.
Shop floor automation tool helps the production and shop floor team to run a lean manufacturing setup thus freeing up working capital through pipeline inventory reduction.
The sales force automation tool increases the productivity of the front line sales force significantly. The entire process of route planning to selling and promotions is automated. It creates new avenues for revenue generation, since now you can venture into unknown territory armed with data.
Customer Relationship Management applications have helped serve the customer better. In today’s global market we need to service the customer keeping in mind their specific need. As per C K Pralhad’s theory of N=1 and R=G, where R stands for resource that should be global and N is the customer experience. 1 means each customer is unique with unique set of needs. Organizations must satisfy this need with global resources if required to make a difference.
Here IT came to the rescue with a host of cloud hosted CRM and service CRM offerings that satisfy the unique need of customers. This has helped retain customers and increase businesses.
Visual elements create a Greater Impact than Normal Data
In an organization, data analysis plays a major part in swift and informed decision making. While analytics platforms existed since 1997 onwards, they were mainly static in nature. Come 2001 and we saw the evolutions of the analytics tools incorporating facts and dimensions, being stored in the form of metadata (data about data) cubes. This allowed users to slice and dice the data in n number of ways. But there was a problem. The quality of data churned out was as good as the data warehouse. If you did not put in enough thoughts in building the warehouse, which most users cannot, it was very painful to change the data warehouse quickly based in user needs. To overcome this, analytics vendors came with innovative solutions that read transaction data and generated a business area with facts and dimensions automatically. This really helped organizations generate dynamic reports and dashboards which blended data and took into consideration business realities. However, the evolution did not stop there. In the past decade, many vendors have come up with visual analytics tools. Seeing the data in visual form, using graphics and charts create a greater impact than simply viewing the data in tabular form. Tools like these have revolutionized data analysis and organizations are beginning to see the impact.
Some would still argue that IT is over hyped. However, we should dig deep into an Organizations well-being and ability to sustain under such market dynamics as it exists today in the global scenario. It will be amazing to note that such existence would not have been possible without significant investment in information technology. After all IT is an integral part of the business, driven by the business and delivering value for the business.