Digital transformation is a compelling goal for businesses today. However, it presents a multi-faceted challenge. Transforming business strategy and operations with technology means combining the power of data with innovative software and flexible infrastructure. To make this work, the best practice is to leverage cloud computing wherever possible.
A Brief Overview of Digital Transformation
The concept of business transformation is susceptible to a combination of vagueness and hype that distorts what it’s actually all about. It is a broad idea, of course, so there is no single definition for business transformation. That said, digital transformation means using data and connections between software applications in new ways—with the goal of forming enduring, meaningful relationships with customers and partners.
The Technical Underpinnings of Business Transformation
The technology of digital transformation is relatively new. It’s not “it came out this year” new, but the main technical elements have matured in the last 5 to 10 years. The most influential of them include:
- Standards-based Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)—APIs built using the REST standard and the JSON programming language (combined with IP-based message protocols) have made it possible to integrate virtually any combination of software applications at remarkably low cost. The integration can be done rapidly and changed easily. The applications can be housed at different corporate entities. This broad connectivity has led to new levels of business agility and the ability to form partnerships between businesses. In digital transformation terms, APIs make it possible to engage with customers across formerly impenetrable corporate barriers, e.g. selling insurance through a mobile banking app.
- Advanced data analytics tools that can be used by generalists—The tech industry has long touted data’s ability to offer “actionable insights.” A drag on this potential came from the tendency to require data science expertise for anything to happen. Now, general business users can perform advanced analytics on data sets from virtually any source, including those outside their companies. This expansive ability to analyze data leads to transformative insights.
- Mobility—Employees and customers now expect to engage with businesses on mobile devices, regardless of where they are or what time it is. Digital transformation is, in large part, a matter of transforming the customer experience with data-rich mobile experiences.
- The Internet of Things (IoT)—The proliferation of low-cost, Internet-connected sensors and other comparable devices leads to digital transformation by offering real time awareness of events and movements that affect the customer experience and market environment.
The Role of the Cloud in Digital Transformation
All of these technological elements work together in a digital transformation. The mobile customer is able to interact with a business over a mobile app that has data about his or her preferences. APIs let the app talk to multiple software applications in orchestrated processes.
At the core of this is sophisticated, cloud-native software for business operations. These include solutions for ERP, CRM and so forth. While it is possible for traditional, on-premises ERP and CRM to be part of digital transformation, it all works a lot better with the flexibility and limitless capacity of the cloud.
Why True Cloud is The Best Way to Effect Digital Transformation
In our experience, the best results for digital transformation come from the use of “true cloud” software. True cloud software is cloud-native. It’s designed to work easily with APIs, data analytics tools and mobile apps. It offers flexible deployment and configuration that enable the kind of dynamic projects that drive digital transformation.