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The Third Platform Is Now

It’s no longer business-as-usual – it’s business as customers drive it. To accommodate this dynamic shift in focus, enterprises today must transform their people, processes and profit centers to be customer-centric, innovative and predictively responsive. In other words, a process of (digital) transformation must be adopted to stay ahead of customer demands and remain sustainably competitive in business.

Business is not about the transaction, the ‘deal’ or the ‘close’; instead, it’s about the relationships between customers and the brand, employees and the company. These relationships are fostered by leveraging technology to automate repeatable engagements and determine personalization tactics through harvesting data. Technology also streamlines the workflows and processes that employees need to support their peak performance and ability to connect with customers and each other.

Since technology is a key facilitator of business process, it is natural to think that transformation begins with technology. In fact, we have entered what analyst firm IDC calls the ‘third platform’ of modern IT. The first platform was about mainframe technology, while the second platform was client/server technology. The third platform is about inter-dependencies between cloud computing, big data, analytics, mobile computing and social media.

Beyond that, Innovation Accelerators including next-gen security, augmented and virtual reality, the Internet of Things, robotics, 3D printing, automated blockchain, advanced optics and more will promote new visions for business models. The emphasis will be on autonomy so technology could become self-iterative with shorter development cycles supported by intelligent systems.

Technology will also become ‘invisible’ as it is integrated into and across customer experiences. Mass personalization at scale will become more refined so skills will migrate away from workers. As a result, new products, processes and services will emerge to meet as-yet-unknown opportunities and marketplace conversations.

With this as the context defining next-level business success, it becomes easy to see why ‘digital transformation’ has become the buzz phrase that defines a much larger process that encompasses the entire organization on every level.

So how do you know if your organization needs digital transformation?

The first key point to know is that you’re waiting for an obvious and clear answer, with all things in place, you’re probably already behind what you need to remain competitive. The idea is to be ready to take advantage of new opportunities and possibilities by upgrading your people’s skills, workflows and technologies sooner than later.

Here are six considerations that are part of preparing for successful digital transformation. And, incidentally, digital transformation doesn’t really ‘end’ – it only helps you get to your next level of frictionless operations, future-proof technology and customer-centric solutions and services.

1. Do business and IT departments work in alignment?

Teams across the company must be not only aligned but responsible for achieving organizational targets together. Each must be, at the very least, familiar with the others’ operations, processes and projects. They should know who works in the team and have connections within other teams as a course of daily business. There needs to be open, consistent communication throughout the company to ensure everyone is pulling toward company goals.

2. Do your employees know that they are a customer service agent first?

In the same line of thought, each and every employee must put customer needs and wants as the priority; meaning, every staff person is a customer service agent, whether or not their role is publicly customer-facing. Customer-centricity is not just a buzzword; instead, it’s the key to the only sustainable business advantage your company has – your brand’s customer experience. Knowing what your customers want, need and expect is the only way you can deliver today and forecast to be ready for their ‘tomorrow’ conversations.

3. Is your company ready to elevate to the cloud?

It’s important that your company be ready to scale resources as needed by working with cloud technologies. Other than security-protected data or apps, just about anything else can be hosted in the cloud for maximum agility, flexibility, scalability and cost-savings. Reduce your organization’s digital footprint by using (and paying for) only the resources you need.

4. Are your employees able to work and collaborate through digital workspaces yet?

With a digital economy, your employees and your customers need to be able to work from anywhere, anytime, from any device, supported by a secure and flexible infrastructure. It is this point that may have started the idea of ‘digitizing’ a business which, over time, became digital transformation. Ideally, your documents, apps, intranets and more will be cloud-based, or digitally available, to enhance employee (and customer) engagement.

5. Will your employees be open to adopting cross-functional team communication, workflows and projects?

Digital transformation breaks down silos, whether they are based in technology, performance or corporate culture. Your employees need to be able to adapt with change and be willing to pivot as you learn from data, procedural insights, customer trends and input, and even the digital transformation process itself.

6. Do your business leaders have the skills to create a digital transformation strategy for your company?

In many organizations, leaders lack the cross-functional skills needed to take into consideration aspects of next-level strategic planning to ensure your company stays relevant, competitive and valuable to your customer market. That can leave a gap that will slow, stall or even stop parts of the digital transformation process. You may need to hire or consult with people who have the right skills to put the right framework(s), strategy(s) and team(s) together to achieve your transformation goals. And you will likely need to invest in your employees to ensure they stay on their growing edge for the benefit of your company.

The time is now for next-level success

For most companies today, digital transformation is merely about digitizing, streamlining, stabilizing and cleaning shop on where they are today to simply be current with today’s needs and best practices. However, remember that we are in the Third Platform, where Innovation Accelerators are right around the corner. Companies have very little ‘wiggle room’ when it comes to making the needed investments of time, energy and funds to optimize their infrastructure and ensure customer-centricity on every level.

You can jumpstart the process by hiring trusted partner who specialize in various aspects of digital transformation – from discovery and assessment to planning and training to technology and implementation. And yes, this is a shameless plug for you to have a chat with one of XTIVIA’s trusted advisors because we can help.

You cannot afford to wait until conditions are perfect to initiate digital transformation. You cannot ‘do’ digital transformation like everybody else does it because there is no one-size-fits-all here – your organization is unique in how you got where you are and where you want to go in your future. And you can’t afford the luxury of not knowing what you don’t know about digital transformation.

The good news is that XTIVIA has your back. So, like everything else we do, we will state with complete transparency that we want to learn about you and your organization to see how we can simplify your digital transformation process.

Let your customers drive your business. Respond by being ready for the Third Platform through digital transformation so you can deliver increasingly targeted value to your customers. Enjoy the rewards of long-term relationships – and next-level business success.

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