“It’s critical for every business to engage with digital transformation — this isn’t something that’s just ‘nice to have’. If you want to compete as a business, it won’t be a one-time thing. ‘Transformation’ means constant change.” This goes for both sides of the equation: “Even for ourselves, we change all the time. We’re constantly evolving to deliver the best solutions to our customers.” While startups rush to outdo multinationals — and to be acquired by them — the broader picture might be more ominous. Is automation going to give us a better life, or will it take away jobs and concentrate employment at the top, leaving us ‘meat-bags’ obsolete?
With more resources at hand to larger companies to build on innovation teams, it is the SMEs who are helping pave the way in terms of agility. “With SMEs in general, AI and machine learning are creeping into businesses anyway. Health tracking apps, customer service automation, I notice a lot of very innovative cases in the health industry. It’s everywhere. It might seem like it’s the cutting edge, and companies might not realise they’re investing in it or even using it, but they often already are. Digital business can be driven by use of emerging technologies, but it’s also about the very basic things which might seem obvious. There’s a lot that can be delivered which doesn’t involve an extensive use of emerging technologies at all,” said Sheahan.
His best tip for firms beginning theor transformation is to start with a digital gap analysis; choosing the right consultants and then creating a plan for the immediate future. “The important things are, firstly, being aware that you’ve selected the right infrastructure, which can give you a flexible platform to build from and keep up to date. Secondly, data. You need to understand which data is valuable to you as a business, and which is not. You can flood your infrastructure with data but not all of it will be relevant to your business. This can be especially true of IoT devices. Then with security, consider new threats all the time, in everything you do. “And finally, looking at service management in order to support your digital initiatives, you need to remove the red tape as much as possible, and move rapidly from ideas stage into deployment.”
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