Why Having a Digital Strategy Is Vital to Business

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
Digital Strategy

Digital technology now touches every corner of the enterprise, but regardless of the tools used, the end goal is to enable people to perform their jobs better.

This capability contributes to smoother and faster flights, reduces the risk of injuries due to flight turbulence and saves fuel. "They can make adjustments immediately," he says. Pilots access the information through a dedicated app on their mobile device. So far, the airline has received only praise from pilots.

The pilots also can access a navigation app—a document manager that holds flight and operating manuals, and other apps. All of this has eliminated about 80 pounds of paper per flight, Tremback says.

In addition, a digital cockpit is compatible with the company's plans to streamline processes that span the ground and the air. He estimates that better analytics data combined with up-to-the-minute weather information will result in somewhere between $20 million and $40 million per year in savings.

The entire fleet of Boeing 737s will be mobile-equipped within two years. Over time, Southwest plans to add new apps and features. "Digital technology is crucial to our future," Tremback emphasizes.

Building a Digital Business Ecosystem

Adopting a digital business model and building a digital business ecosystem requires enterprise leaders to fundamentally rethink assumptions and values, Accenture Digital's Sutcliff says. "Having advanced technical expertise, data scientists and other capabilities does no good if you're not willing to actually change the way you do business," he says.

Among other things, this means that line-of-business executives must collaborate on projects and innovative initiatives, identify opportunities for advancement and disruption, and be willing to take risks and pilot projects rapidly. Information about success stories and best practices must flow in both structured and non-structured ways, he says.

"Business is really no different in the digital world," Sutcliff points out. "Things just happen faster, costs built into digital products and services are lower, and there are more tools and platforms to leverage within an ecosystem."

In the end, it's critical to build a digital business infrastructure that can accommodate disruption—and even fuel it—through an agile, flexible and smarter business and IT framework. This inevitably means embracing cloud computing, a mobile-first approach, and a variety of technologies that fall under the umbrella of the internet of things, Capgemini's Krupitzer explains.

In addition, there's a need to plug in micro-services and APIs to interconnect new data sources with legacy systems. Still another piece of the puzzle involves addressing governance issues, cultural challenges and cyber-security concerns.

It's safe to say that digital business development is at the center of everything.

"The digital era requires a new way of looking at everything," Krupitzer concludes. "Business plans, staffing and governance all need to reflect a more agile way of doing business that comes with digital transformation. Business leaders must understand their organization's speed limit for change, communicate the changes necessary to excel in the digital world, and then focus on small but meaningful projects to gain quick success."

This article was originally published on 2016-11-30
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
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