July 2020
3 minutes

Driving Trends of the Digital Transformation

At the Pulse of Time – the Evolutionizer Trend Radar

The digital transformation is not only impacting the structures and management of companies, it is changing the rules of the game for whole industries.

The Corona Crisis has accelerated the digital transformation, which will change the organization and value chain of many companies and industries in the short and medium term. Now is the time to drive digital transformation effectively and sustainably, because only a holistic approach will lead to success.

We summarized some current trends:

Trend #1: New Customer Needs = Changing the Business Model?

With the shutdown, customers were forced to do things online for which they had not previously used digital channels¹. They quickly adapted to the new situation and familiarized themselves with digital technologies, e.g. virtual sports and further education courses, and increasingly ordered online. This is now becoming the new norm.

Keeping these new consumer and customer needs in mind will be a major factor for companies' success. Knowing customers' needs, wishes and challenges will only become more relevant as companies seek to provide relevant and enticing offers.

A recent McKinsey study confirms that almost all organizations (established and start-ups alike) are digitizing their business models as a direct result of the coronavirus's impact on consumer behavior. In some cases, the changed circumstances of recent months have forced companies to completely change their business models.

Trend #2: Focus on "Front-Line" Signals and Tightly Steering Business Operations

With forecasts becoming increasingly short-lived, companies are once again focusing more intensively on their business operations. This means more frequent, sometimes daily, monitoring in order to identify potential disruptive factors and react quickly to changes. Today, even a small undesirable development can jeopardize a company's future. Decision-makers must react more rapidly than ever. It is therefore advisable to establish a pragmatic and effective method for the gathering, bundling and assessment of potential disruptions and risks, directly from the "front-line" of the organization and on short notice. Any business-critical processes must be adaptable to such disruptions and designed in such a way that an immediate assessment and rapid reaction is possible.

Trend #3: Identify Customer Needs With the Help of Smart Data Analytics & ML

Data analysis with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming a key competitive advantage. Particularly innovative companies have used AI technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) for some time. Anyone who has not yet invested in this area should do so as soon as possible. These analysis and evaluation methods are indispensable for improving real-time decisions and ensuring those decisions are grounded in facts.

Make your company more efficient! Data-driven, smart analysis tools provide valuable information about the rapidly changing needs of customers. They show in real time and on a factual basis the challenges customers are most likely to face as well as the solutions they will need now and in the future.

Trend #4: Necessary Cultural Change Succeeds With a Critical Mass of Commitment

Decentralization - the relocation of (almost) all employees into home offices - and the associated software systems needs require a new form of cooperation between management, business units, IT, etc. Furthermore, new roles in the company are needed to close the gaps between individual units. For a company to successfully master this cultural change, it must be exemplified at the management level. Only in this way can employees find their way around their new roles and sometimes new tasks while remaining motivated. The cultural shift toward a "digital mindset" and the agile cooperation of all employees is just as crucial to the success of the company as the digital technologies themselves. This task cannot be delegated to the IT department. It is the task of top management.

Conclusion: Increase the Digital Maturity Level Now and Advance Digital Transformation

Due to the changed circumstances of the past few months, companies have been forced to digitize their processes and entire business models². To define the path to the "digitally transformed enterprise," clarity is needed on two topics:

  1. What is the digital vision of the company, and what is the digital strategy of the company?
  2. Where does the company stand today in terms of digital maturity?

The gap between 1 and 2 describes the path. Clarity regarding how much time we have for the digital transformation is another criterion for success.

From a functional point of view, the first point of contact should be customer needs. These must be critically reviewed and reassessed, and individual areas or even the entire business model must be realigned accordingly. Customer data, already available in thousands of files, is invaluable, but is in fact under- or even un-utilized for questions related to segmentation, buying behavior, or the change in customer needs. With modern methods and advanced statistics, we already get quite far; available machine-learning technologies open the gates for a new standard of "market intelligence."

A holistic approach is critical for success: It is of no use to a company when a well-founded digital strategy is developed, appropriate measures are derived from it and a cultural change is intended, but the implementation is too hesitant and the question of the right structure is left out. Drive the change consistently and actively participate in shaping it as a role model. Being aware of the digital maturity level of your organization as well as the needs on the market side and depending on the industry and its dynamics, there are only a few grey areas in this central cross-sectional topic: Either you approach it with full power or you leave it ...


¹ McKinsey & Company, July 2020: Elevating customer experience excellence in the next normal
² Boston Consulting Group, May 2020: Is Your Technology Ready for the New Digital Reality?

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