BUSINESS DIGITALIZATION (GOING ONLINE) AND CHANGE MANAGEMENT


Definition: "Digitalization is the integration of digital technologies into everyday life by the digitization of everything that can be digitized. The literal meaning of digitization gives an apparent idea of development and technology dependent world", IGI Global, a leading international academic publisher committed to facilitating the discovery of pioneering research that enhances and expands the body of knowledge available to the research community. 

Background:The future is secure with transition onto online platforms to service clients and the society at large. However, this does not happen on its own for the enterprises, big or small. It requires a decisive strategic intervention by the management and leadership, followed by financial Investment in the processes to effect this transition. The talk about the 4th Industrial Revolution, Artificial Intelligence, and application of Online Business Platforms is a “sweet one” for those who are not running enterprises. It sounds easy and fun to engage in over dinner tables. For those who are running and leading enterprises it is a reality they are facing. Their future is under threat, unless they adjust very fast. It is a matter of “life and death”. Failure to effect and master the transition into digital and online business, embracing artificial intelligence and migration of clients will result in their businesses closing down. For big businesses with financial muscles they would probably be able to bounce back by re-engineering their business practices. For small businesses there is no chance of making it. They can forget about being in business in the next few years. If they make the transition way in advance, they can find themselves up there with the big players. 

Business Case for Digitalization: Clients are transitioning their business practices and processes onto digital platforms, and would like to be serviced in that way. They drop those suppliers and service providers who are stuck with legacy technology and systems. The new technologies are fast breaking down barriers of entry into national and international markets. This means that foreign competition enters local markets virtually. The same applies to local suppliers and providers. It is a choice not to do anything with this status quo. The new entrants into markets apply these new technologies. They do not have legacy technologies to worry about. They become immediately competitive, and can dislodge old suppliers and providers at a go. The broadband is fast becoming a public good. It is a “super highway” on which big and small players drive. The real winners are the owners of content, products, services, and solutions that are delivered via this highway. However, the enterprises must have the “license” and know how to drive safely on it. Otherwise lots of accidents will happen. How ready are you? For the enterprises offering service through platforms like skype, zoom, google hangouts, webinars, and digital conferencing, this is their daily life activity. Their universal language is the application of these technology platforms within the context of their value proposition and digital strategies. The global societies are embracing artificial intelligence and becoming dependent on it daily. Acceleration of the application of the new technologies and replacement of the old ones is the most common feature of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

How to transition into Online Business Platforms: Theoretically this should be easy. All what you need is a technologist to design your online store, load your products, and off you go. No, it is not as simple as that. The online business platforms are just exactly that, the platforms. Their introduction and application must be informed by the digital marketing strategy of the enterprise. Such strategy must be all encompassing, including transformation and change management. It should cover the repackaging of the products, services and/or solutions. The systems and processes must be redesigned. It requires the design and development of the online store using the online tools and hosting of the online site. Your company online accounting platform must communicate with your online store, especially with regard to product units, prices, discounts, taxes, etc. To enable online payment for immediate conversion of your leads into sales you will need payment gateways. If you are playing in the international markets your payment gateway must accept international currencies. You should provide detailed and customer friendly descriptions of your products, services and solutions on your online store. This will make it easy for your online clients to take decisions and act once they visit your store. Finally the packaging must appeal to your target audience. This transition requires well crafted transformation and change management process and intervention, including knowledge and capacity to implement the programme of action.

Hindrances to Digitalization move: there are many challenges and hindrances to digitalization move for enterprises. It is more so difficult for the general members of the society. Lack of skill in new technologies and the use of social media platforms, along with fear for cybercrime, is one of the many hindrances. Adding to this is lack of knowledge on digitalization and digital marketing, one of the fastest growing professions in the world. Some enterprises are restricted by continued operation of legacy technologies and systems that have not yet achieved desired Return on Investment (ROI). Otherwise the main reason seems to be reluctance to introduce Digitalization Transformation & Change Management Initiative to transition the enterprise into Digital & Online Platforms. Most traditional and strong market leaders may not necessarily have readily available content to digitally engage with those clients that are active on digital platforms. This is a serious problem as they are not able to guide their leads through their sales funnels to the point of conversion into sales. This is the beginning of them losing market share to young and new market entrants who trade fully on digital platforms. We are also observing the misunderstanding of the role played by social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, etc. as digital marketing platforms. Social Media is a powerful Digital Marketing tool that can revolutionize the Go to Market Programmes of many suppliers and service providers. It is underutilized and in most cases misused. The worst of all shortfalls in the Social Marketing space from many enterprises is being totally absent, i.e. the enterprises do not have social media platform account at all. That is suicidal in my view. It is like the management has taken a decision to go out of business. They is no argument about the fact that digitalization and online business application is the future that starts now. The other hindrance is inconsistency in engaging with the enterprise’s stakeholders on digital platforms. As a result their experience is limited. Their confidence in embracing digital platforms is very low. The few that overcome these challenges are “milking” the market. The rest will never catch up with them. Lastly, the other hindrances are poor quality products, services, and solutions, and lack of professional technical support.

Conclusion: This is an evolving topic. To stay connected to the discussion follow this blog, visit our website, www.Cometsa-GoC.com, and our soon to go live Online Store, www.Online.Cometsa-GoC.com 

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