Digital transformation is a hot topic these days, perhaps a little over-hyped. Yet, it’s very real, and it can make a difference in your business. Though a complex subject, the essence of digital transformation involves the use of new technologies to effect fundamental changes in the way your business runs. Business software programs like ERP and CRM are part of the story. In some cases, they are the digital transformation story.

What Is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is a big, intricate topic. Asking “what is digital transformation” is a bit like asking “what is weight loss?” It comprises a lot of different elements at the same time. People approach it in different ways. With this context in mind, digital transformation generally means changing business operations, business models and strategies—often all at once—using a combination of the following:

  • Simple application integration made possible by standards-based APIs. This leads to innovative business delivery as well as new, rapid-cycling partnerships between companies that can easily connect their systems.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT), in which low-cost digital sensors and comparable devices generate data about business operations, physical environments and so forth.
  • Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). These capabilities enable businesses to gain insights into their data, including IoT data, and better understand their operations, their customers, markets and opportunities.
  • Mobility, delivered through mobile devices and mobile apps. Businesses can revolutionize their operations and customer relationships with mobile technology.

Business Software and Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is not an organic phenomenon. You can have APIs, IoT, data analytics and mobility in your business and continue to run it the same old way. And, maybe that’s just fine. Not every business needs transformation. If you want transformation, though, you need a way to harness all the potential inherent in APIs and the rest. This is where business software emerges as a key enabling factor.

Each element of digital transformation should connect with your main business software. That way, you can leverage these innovations for direct, business-facing outcomes. For instance, if you deploy IoT devices and run AI-based analytics on the data they generate, what will you actually do with your findings? You will most likely implement your insights in your business software, e.g. if you find out that your field service trucks are consistently late due to previously-unpredictable traffic jams, you can implement new route scheduling in your field service management software. That’s where the insight turns into action.

Taking this example further, you might want to create a mobile app to offer new kinds of field service that had been unimaginable before. This is digital transformation, but how will you operationalize it? By using APIs to connect the app with your ERP and CRM systems, as well as the field service software, you can make it all come together.

Business software powers digital transformation concepts. It provides the functionality, automation, speed and scale these ideas need to take root and flourish. Making business software work for digital transformation requires more than just digital technology, however. Success has a lot to do with business, understanding how a company makes money in its market—and then connecting that knowledge with relevant  business software functionality.