Why digital transformation needs to be on your radar

By Robert Half on 22 October 2019

Digital transformation is an important step for every business, regardless of industry. Huge efforts are being made across the globe to embrace it.

The Economist's “Asian Digital Transformation Index 2018” even ranks Hong Kong as third overall for digital transformation progress in Asia. This is above South Korea and Taiwan and just behind Singapore and Japan.

The importance of transforming business activities, processes and models by leveraging technology is not going to diminish. It’s only going to grow. Deloitte’s report confirms this, revealing that digital transformation budgets will be increased by 25 percent in 2019 compared to 2018.

Continued progress is likely to bring huge benefits for Hong Kong. For instance, an IDC study estimates that digital transformation will add around US$9 billion to Hong Kong’s GDP by 2021.

As a business, if digital transformation still isn’t on your radar, it’s time that it became a top priority. Whilst there are many benefits, here are just three key opportunities of digital transformation and some ways you can take advantage of them:

1. Machines can automate manual tasks

Advantages: Workplace automation is inescapable. One of the opportunities it provides is freeing employees from mundane tasks such as data entry and invoicing. This doesn’t mean jobs will be lost because of technology though. Staff can be retrained in other, higher value roles, such as data analysis, or artificial intelligence (AI).

Machines will provide other benefits to businesses too. They will enable tasks to be completed faster, with less downtime (where in comparison, humans require regular breaks and holidays). This not only increases operational efficiency but will help to reduce costs too, which is especially important in such a competitive business environment. Tasks can also be carried out with greater accuracy, as unlike humans, machines won’t tire and make simple mistakes.

Action: If you have any repeat and routine tasks in your business, find a way to automate them. For example, you could invest in solutions such as business process automation software.

2. Big data can provide insight to drive your business

Advantages: Businesses now have access to more data than ever before. This doesn’t just apply to big corporations. Businesses of all sizes can now generate a huge amount of data. This can be used to help gain useful market insight. This insight can enable you to work more productively, provide better customer experiences, enable you to make more informed decisions and become more innovative. This can all help you to get, and stay, ahead of your competition.

Action: Investing in customer relationship (CRM) systems for example and hiring people with data and analytical skills can help you gain insights that can enable you to understand your customers better. As a result, you can provide highly personalised and individualised experiences and develop the products or services they need, at the time they need them. This is just one of many steps your business can take to reap the rewards of big data.

3. Systems can help you manage distributed teams

Advantages: With an increasing number of employees benefiting from flexible and mobile work arrangements, it can be very difficult to manage everyone effectively. By embracing technology, you can track employees, support their needs better and enable them to interact with you more easily. Technology can lead to improved collaboration and teamwork, despite staff working remotely. You could even foster “people analytics” to understand more about what makes your employees perform well, what makes them stay in your business and more.

Action: Build apps and systems that make it easy to keep track of employees, support them, and allow them to interact with you. Encourage digital collaboration and networking to increase teamwork.

Meeting the challenge of digital transformation

Digital transformation can have some impressive benefits, but as with most changes, there can also be some challenges that need to be overcome. Your business and employees may fear change for example or have a lack of understanding of technology. You may face skills gaps in your business or have difficulties because of legacy systems.

Regardless of any challenges, digital transformation is vital for businesses. This not only applies now but increasingly so in the future too.

It’s important to start planning your digital transformation strategy now. Look into measures such as investing in the right technology and implementing plans to automate procedures to improve efficiency.

Don’t forget to take any challenges into account and plan how you will combat them or turn them into positives for your business. By staying one step ahead of the digital transformation game you are more likely to evolve your business and sustain an edge over your competitors.

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