It’s hard to escape digital transformation. We read about it, discuss it and most of us are engaged in at least one, and likely several, digital transformation initiatives. Many who have not been involved in digital transformation wonder what differentiates it from previous technical eras, which is a legitimate question, as we have used computers and other electronic technology for decades.
The primary difference now is that we are at a point where most every function, aside from the delivery of a firm’s core products and services, may be accomplished without direct employee intervention or augmented by paper or brick-and-mortar facilities.
One example of this in the new age of digital transformation is banking. ATMs, 800 numbers with self-service functions, online account services and more have been around for years. These tools have handled most of the minor and routine tasks, but for major transactions, such as a car loan, there would generally be a trip to the bank to sign final paperwork, at least. Today, it is possible to research loans, apply for one and e-sign final note without ever having spoken to a bank employee or visited the bank, and to receive paperless copies of all documents after the loan is finalized.
Banking is just one of several industries that have transformed to an almost entirely digital environment. On a daily basis, our customers, who work in every sector, roll out new applications which have been built using our self-coding application (GeneXus 15). A number of these programs are built for mobile platforms, which with folks’ close attachment to their mobile devices speaks further to how important consideration of the individual is in the transformation process.
True digital transformation improves people’s everyday lives. At GeneXus, we’re passionate about helping companies design and deploy applications that inspire and enable their employees and customers. We try always to keep at the forefront that it is about people first, not technology. If a solution is too complex or cumbersome for the end user, then it is more of a problem than a “solution”, and should be avoided.
One of our clients, Dave Easton, VP for MBS Textbook Exchange, succinctly summed up the greatest obstacle his organization (and many others, no doubt) encounters in the digital transformation sphere – adequately defining an application’s requirements. His group has no problem spooling out programs quickly, as they use GeneXus, but identifying exactly what is needed and will work for their customers is the true challenge.
Nailing down the specific requirements, quickly, is crucial for Easton. As he explains, “Opportunities are mainly a case of establishing solutions before competitors”. Product managers, developers and others responsible for delivering these solutions need an existing understanding of user capabilities and wants to fulfill that objective, which makes it a people issue, rather than a technical one.
Jeff Parker, CFO of Custom Wood Products (another GeneXus user), cites agility as the most critical element of digital transformation. He advises: “Make your strategy focused on agility so that you can react quickly to emerging technologies”. This, again, comes back to people and not technology, as it is individuals, not machines, who develop strategy and employ agile methodologies.
As CFO, Jeff has a more acute understanding of the investment required for digital transformation than most, yet it is one he is willing to make. From his standpoint, “Demand for enterprise applications is always growing. The increased demand limits resources, but also creates opportunities for great new solutions”. Investment in digital transformation is just that, and can provide enormous returns.
Digital transformation, although challenging at times, allows organizations to focus more narrowly on their primary products or service, and their customers. A common thread we have found among our 50+ and growing U.S. users is that the automation of ancillary services and optimization of core services invariably allows for this greater devotion of resources to core functions. Consequently, businesses should run to digital transformation, rather than from it.
The same need for people/customer-centric approach to digital transformation holds true for my operation, also. We work very closely with our users to develop new solutions and implement existing ones that align with a customer’s capabilities and demands. Doing so has been instrumental to our success, and fortunately, our community has graciously shared their requirements that have spawned the development of our technologies.
I look forward to walking with our customers through their digital transformation process, and assisting in whatever capacity I can. While overcoming technical challenges for the last three decades has been a blast for us, it has been the people that have made the experience truly meaningful. I think that most in business feel the same and digital transformation will allow for more of that close and deep interaction.
Thanks for reading,