Today, organisations in every industry are facing the decision to maintain traditional business practices or to facilitate large-scale changes that allow for more technology integration. Many organisations already readily integrate digital tools into the daily working practices, for example:
- Data processors
- Mobile phones
- Data storage
- Digital cellular networks
- Distributed computing systems that connect multiple computers and devices
The primary aim of integrating technology is to make organisations more competitive and productive. Whilst many leaders choose to stop at digitalisation, others manage to accomplish a complete digital transformation.
Digitalisation vs digital transformation
Digitalisation refers to the incorporation into daily working practices of data and technology, for example, to enhance communication and collaboration between internal work teams, different departments and with external business partners. The inner workings of organisations are enhanced without changing the entire infrastructure of the organisation. These enhancements can also facilitate the use of technologies such as electronic commerce (e-commerce).
Digital transformation, on the other hand, takes the developmental goals of digitalisation a step further. Digital transformation involves integrating digital technology into every single aspect of the organisation and completely changing the infrastructure, along with the way in which value is created for customers. Digital transformation fundamentally changes just about the entire structure and processes of an organisation, including modifications to:
- processes and products
- business operations
- business strategy
- business models
- leadership practices
- organisational culture
- change processes
- organisational logics
- logistics and so on
Whilst the level of effort is much higher, organisations tend to enjoy benefits like:
- increased productivity and sales
- innovative forms of value creation
- new ways to establish and maintain customer relationships
Previous research on digital transformation
Previous research looking at the evolution and importance of digital transformations has found that:
- Research on digital transformation is still in its infancy.
- There is still no universally accepted definition of digital transformation process.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rate at which organisations are committing to digital transformation.
- Digital transformation has evolved from an optional method of improving business to becoming a necessity for survival.
- Digital transformation is highly challenging for both individual organisations and national economies, as there is increasing competition from organisations and countries using even more advanced technologies.
- The number of publications on digital transformations is rapidly increasing across different industries. This increases the complexity of pulling together the research and making the process harder to understand.
- Currently (March 2022), there are over 145,000 digital transformation research papers.
A new study
A new (2022) study by researchers from Free University of Bozen-Bolzano in Italy, Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia, the University of Beira Interior and NECE and Polytechnic Institute of Viseu in Portugal and the University of Linz in Austria has looked at trends in digital transformation management and business research to understand how organisations are being impacted by technology.
The study found that countries with the most organisations enacting digital transformations are Germany, America, the UK and Italy. The study also found that there are two primary areas that organisations are currently most concerned about when it comes to digital transformation:
- General business and management
- Sales and CRM or customer relationship management
Business & management digital transformation concerns
Leaders are currently trying to manage issues related to:
- Dynamic capabilities necessary for achieving development goals
- Using big data to make informed decisions
- Industry 4.0 and reshaping manufacturing through automated processes
- Understanding the required structural changes needed to utilise technology effectively and improve efficiency
- Developing novel ways to create and sustain value
- The role business strategy plays in a digitally transformed organisation
The digital transformation of sales and CRM
This cluster of concerns largely separates into two areas:
Organisations involved in business-to-business (B2B) sales are primarily concerned about internal issues, such as:
- Using new forms of digital technology to identify and maintain business to business (B2B) relationships.
- Empowering employees to drive the creation of novel services and products.
- Designing more effective work and sales processes.
Business-to-customer (B2C) based organisations tend to be more interested in external aspects of digital transformation, for instance, ways technology can improve opportunities for collaboration and relationship-building with customers.
Within each of these the primary areas of interest for both organisations and researchers are currently:
- Dynamic capabilities
- Digital transformation strategies
- The impact of industry 4.0
- How to effectively use big data
- Developing effective business models and business model transformation
- Applications for artificial intelligence
- How to use technology for value creation purposes
- How to use technology for value co-creation and collaboration
- The impact of digital transformation on change management
Organisations are discovering which functional aspects to focus on during a digital transformation to manage the fast-paced changes required for success.
Kraus, S., Durst, S., Ferreira, J. J., Veiga, P., Kailer, N., & Weinmann, A. (2022). Digital transformation in business and management research: An overview of the current status quo. International Journal of Information Management, 63, 102466.
Be impressively well informed
Get the very latest research intelligence briefings, video research briefings, infographics and more sent direct to you as they are published
Be the most impressively well-informed and up-to-date person around...