Accenture really, really wants you to think of them when you think of digital transformation. So much so that they’ve recently published not one but two reports focusing on the topic: From Digitally Disrupted to Digital Disrupter and CMOs: Time for digital transformation, or risk being left on the sidelines.

The first question is just what the heck is digital transformation anyway? MIT’s Sloan Management Review report, Embracing Digital Technology, defines it as the use of new digital technologies (including social media, mobile, analytics, and embedded devices) to enable major business improvements such as enhancing the customer experience, streamlining operations, or creating new business models.

Now that we have a better idea of what digital transformation is, back to Accenture. According to the company’s report, the belief is that while the previous decade was devoted to technology-based startups, in the coming decade, traditional companies will play catch up and get digitally focused, as well.  This bodes well for these traditional enterprises because they have deep resources, are sizable, and for the most part have developed a disciplined process, according to the report. In particular, the next three years will determine how these companies position themselves.

Case studies named in the report include: Tesco, a global grocery retailer that has moved into digital businesses such as movie streaming, e-books, and online and mobile sales; GE, which is focusing on the industrial Internet and collecting big data; and Disney, which is using a FitBit-like “MagicBand” to help people traverse the parks more easily and even pay for things.

Much has been said about the risk large companies run of being disrupted by smaller, nimbler companies. If they fail to innovate, they will suddenly find that their markets have been stolen out from under them. (Interestingly, there’s been a bit of a “disruption” backlash recently.) What’s intriguing about the companies cited in this report is that they’re the big companies—the ones that are typically thought of as being the disruptees. Instead, they’re being innovative and doing the disrupting themselves, for a change. For example, General Motors is getting involved in ride-sharing with RelayRides and AT&T is getting into home security automation, the report points out.

The Accenture report cites six trends that it sees as part of digital transformation:

  1. Digital–physical blur: Extending intelligence to the edge. In other words, the Internet of Things and taking advantage of the data that smart devices can collect.
  2. From workforce to crowdsource: The rise of the borderless enterprise. This includes not only crowdsourcing but also community development and collaborative platforms such as Kickstarter (where, incidentally, the guy looking for $10 to make potato salad is now up to $49,765).
  3. Data supply chain: Putting information into circulation. This is your basic “big data” trend, which dictates that companies must collect and share data rather than keeping it in siloes to make their business processes more efficient.
  4. Harnessing hyperscale: Hardware is back. Big data requires a lot of hardware for storage and processing. (Oddly, the report doesn’t mention the cloud, which gives companies access to more hardware when they need it without having to buy it.)
  5. The business of applications: Software as a core competency in a digital world. Apps, apps, apps, a trend that was also mentioned by Mary Meeker recently.
  6. Architecting resilience: “Built to survive failure” becomes the mantra of the nonstop business. The downside of the digital business is that if things go down, you’re hosed, so you need security, redundancy, and all that good stuff.

While the trends themselves are not exactly ground-breaking, the best part of the report is that it includes a checklist of things to do for each trend—for the next 100 days and then for a year from now.

Accenture’s not the first consulting company to say that every business is a digital business. What the report points out, however, is that companies—big and small—need to think about ways to use technology to reinvent themselves, rather than simply incorporating technology into the existing organization. In other words, don’t just use technology to automate the existing manual processes, but look for ways in which digitization of those processes can enable you to streamline workflow by eliminating steps that are no longer needed.

Related Posts