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A report compiled by the Harvard Business Review, although slightly dated, nonetheless reveals a business environment in which the workings of digital transformation have already begun.

As a digital IT channel platform provider, we’re in the business of using technology to change an existing industry for the better, making its operations faster, more accurate and more visible, with a high degree of time-saving automation.

As such we’re always on the lookout for interesting pieces of information regarding digital transformation in organisations and our attention was thus piqued by a report published by the Harvard Business Review titled Competing in 2020: Winners and Losers in the Digital Economy.

Digital is Imminent

To compile the report HBR surveyed 783 respondents, including 578 who are members of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, all of which indicated that they were digital decision makers or influencers.

Although published in 2017 and thus already two years old, it nevertheless contains many interesting insights which give readers a clearer picture of the state of digital transformation on a macro-level, and it’s our general feeling that industry reports like these can be beneficial in that they can lift a business’ perspective above their own daily operations focus, and can provide a useful view of the position of other industry companies and the surrounding macro-environment.

One of the first points highlighted in the report is the fact that 80% of the survey respondents believe that their industry will be disrupted by digital trends and that most of them said that their industry had either passed that point or will pass it by 2020. In essence, they believed that digital transformation was indeed real and widespread.

More worryingly, nearly half of the respondents believed that their organisation’s business model would be obsolete by next year. Hopefully in the time since the report was released, they’ve taken steps towards implementing a new digital-focused strategy!

– HBR: Competing in 2020

Digital is Viewed as an Opportunity

Interestingly, instead of viewing digital as a threat to their businesses, it seems that business leaders are viewing it as an opportunity. Two of the biggest opportunities cited in the report are enhanced customer relationships and greater value chain integration. HBR sees the former as good news for consumers and business customers as it ‘foreshadows an era of customer-centred business.’

One of the priorities at ChannelCenter is on enabling channel businesses to provide their customers with great service and a streamlined digital user experience. In an increasingly digital world, businesses and customers have come to expect the ability to self-service at their convenience, and our IT channel platform enables them to do so. The speed, accuracy and visibility of the platform all enhance the channel experience for our customers as well.

Enhancing operations for greater intelligence and speed, and transforming existing products and business models to be more information-based is another digital priority for businesses. Here again ChannelCenter is able to provide what they’re looking for – with full integration throughout the channel, transactions and notifications are instantaneous, whilst the platform aggregates and compiles this information into strategic, yet easy-to-read system dashboards.

Barriers to Progress

Naturally there are barriers to progress, and the HBR report identified some of these as well. Most respondents named restructuring how the business is organised and managed as a major hurdle to overcome on the way to digital transformation, whilst resistance to change amongst managers and employees ranked highly as well. The report states that digital leaders “attack this challenge with lots of communication and dialogue about not just what is happening but why”.

Turning its attention to hybrids – those businesses where some, but not all, of their products and operations depend on digital technologies – HBR recommends that they focus their efforts and bring them closer to the core of the business, while non-digital businesses should “make it an urgent priority to find their place in the new digital landscape.”

Report sponsor Microsoft has a dedicated preface within the document where Corporate Vice President, Anand Eswaran summed it all up rather nicely.

“Leaders need to bring in tech and cultural changes that empower their employees, engage customers in new ways, optimize operations, and transform products” he wrote. “Rebuilding an organization around these areas creates a fully digital company that can change ahead of its customers and competition.”