As technology continues to drive consumer demand, Jamaican businesses must change their mindset and go digital in order to keep up.
Undel Williams, CIO at Info Exchange, said to me “Digital transformation is a journey and not a destination”. And there is an Abraham Lincoln quote that says, “Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality.”
Now you may be saying to yourself, “What is the overlap between the words of a CIO and one of the most popular US presidents in history?” You see, in order to begin digitally transforming your organization, there must be a commitment at the highest levels of leadership to look for opportunities to fundamentally change and improve how businesses operate and deliver value to customers.
To Go Digital, Transform Your Mindset
Whether it is changes in service delivery, data security, business continuity or productivity, in the modern world of business, we must rethink some of the norms and standard practices which are culturally inherent to business. This is to ensure that we can keep up with the rapidly accelerating digital transformation trend taking place in Jamaica and indeed across the world.
Digital transformation goes beyond simply computerizing your operations. Yes, you have bought the computers. Yes, you paid for the software. You might even have highly trained staff to use it, but are your operations systemized and optimized to perform in this new world being driven by technology? Digital transformation is the use of technology to create or revise business processes, culture, and customer experiences in order to easily adapt to changes in the market and thereby enabling your business to grow in this digital world.
If you expect that an upgrade of your digital systems will directly translate to digital transformation, then you misunderstand the essence of the transformation and you stand to lose some of the benefits associated with this journey. It is not enough to simply replace non-digital or manual processes with digital processes or even to just replace older technology with newer technology.
By now, you may have thought back to how your business has approached the changes in the world and you might have gotten a bit panicky. However, not to worry. If you are committed to embarking on this journey, then you too can still make the shift. It’s not too late!
Things Are Changing
Here in Jamaica, we say it if ain’t broke don’t fix it, however that does not work in today’s business reality. Can we definitively say it isn’t broken? So many changes have occurred in the business landscape, but we still use approaches and technology from decades past. Can we say with absolute certainty that our organizations are optimized for the digital transformation and are working as efficiently as possible when we are still unable to pivot to changes in the marketplace, easily expand operations to new markets, or even manoeuvre the world of ecommerce?
You must constantly be in step with the changes happening in business in order to remain relevant. Therefore, a cultural evolution is needed to reform the way we integrate technology into our business processes. Our markets are no longer just our neighbourhoods but are now the whole world. You have to think big when trying to grow your business and leverage technology to get you there. 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic are perfect examples of what can happen when you have to rethink everything.
Undeniably, if you had already been on a path to digital transformation pre-covid, that would have helped to ease the adjustment to the “new normal”. However, there are many examples of businesses that hopped on this wave or accelerated their digital transformation when the pandemic hit. Tele-medicine took off as doctors used technology to serve their patients. Lawyers started accepting digitally signed documents. Banks, at long last, allowed for accounts to be opened outside of the branch. This happened because the C-suite in these organizations assessed how it was that they could do things differently thereby increasing their service level to customers and increasing their market share even in this time of crisis.
Recently, parliament passed the Data Protection Act of 2020 which aims to safeguard the privacy and personal information of Jamaicans when conducting business online. If that is not a sign of the changing business landscape, then I don’t know what is. Jamaican companies will now have to put digital systems in place to adequately facilitate the requirements of this new law. It’s not a question of if, but when. This too is a part of the process of digital transformation. So, in the next couple of years as public education takes hold, expect that most business transactions will be done online. This opens the door to a crocus bag of possibilities.
We’ve seen many of the digitally mature businesses latch on and avail themselves to the augmentation of digital transformation brought about by the pandemic, and you should too! It is now up to business leaders, small and large alike, to get creative and gaze upon the future where business is driven by changing consumer behaviour and accelerated by technology.
There’s a technological solution for every purpose nowadays from virtual assistant AIs to software defined data centres, and everything in between. The possibilities are endless. In order to be a part of the race, you first have to get on the track. How can digital transformation drive your business? Think outside the box and dream a little nuh?
This blog was carried in The Gleaner on April 1, 2021 under the title To go digital, transform your mindset.