As the economic and digital landscapes evolve, only enterprises that are able to truly harness the power of digital can stay ahead. What defines a Digital Business today and how can organizations grow, scale and succeed?
Technology is fundamentally redefining the way we live, play and work – and how businesses are engaging with their customers.
Data is at the heart of today’s digital economy. But the challenges – and opportunities – for modern day enterprises is the amount of data they generate and store, particularly in Asia Pacific. A recent report projects that the region will be home to around 40 percent of the world’s data centers. Increasingly, Asia Pacific businesses are taking hold of more data which have the potential to impact digital transformation, customer experience, and competitive advantage.
Global role models include AirBnB, Uber, Netflix, Tesla and even McDonald’s. Closer to the region, companies like Alibaba, DBS, and Go-Jek are doing well in this aspect. Here’s how they are tapping the power of technology to distinguish themselves – and key best practices other businesses can learn from.
With systems and networks that are able to support huge workloads and adapt to changes, true Digital Businesses are able to create and roll out services that customers readily embrace. McDonald’s in cities like Singapore deployed self-service digital kiosks to speed up the process of ordering and collecting their meals. They are also able to process customer data to derive insights, and deliver meals that are tailored to local or customized flavors.
In the e-commerce space, the Alibaba Group offers a comprehensive platform of services that include consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer, and business-to-business sales. Customers around the world can find a wide variety of products, vendors, and even partners to buy and sell products with. This massive ecosystem encompasses Alibaba.com, AliExpress, and Taobao, and is only possible with a global network that is able to flexibly handle changing IT demands all around the world.
Being agile to fast-changing customer requests is another trait of a successful Digital Business. In this respect, mobile apps have the potential to offer great convenience and flexibility for customers. Big brands like Starbucks practise this to an effective degree. The company designed a mobile app that delivers perks like a loyalty program. The program keeps track of customer data and understands their preferences. Because of this, it is able to deliver personalized offers and other marketing content to its customers. The app also has an intuitive user interface that allows customers to order and pay easily.
Ride-hailing companies like Go-Jek have also proven to be very adaptable when it comes to designing new services through their mobile apps. Apart from booking rides, the company has also found ways to make it easier and more cost-efficient for riders to do so by optimizing algorithms. It has also created services such as food delivery, going beyond its initial offerings and finding new ways to win more customers.
The insurance sector has also seen its fair share of Digital Businesses. Manulife, one of the world’s largest insurers, has transformed to serve its customers better. In Asia, it launched the Move program, which allows customers to track their fitness via devices like Fitbit and mobile applications. The functionalities are integrated in real-time with the insurer’s systems, allowing customers to engage with solutions on their own terms. The program also allows Manulife to connect with younger clients and gain access to large amounts of valuable data.
With the massive amounts of data enterprises are storing today, a Digital Business is able to leverage it as a fuel for growth. Digital businesses are able to harness this growing pool for insights into customer behavior to design enhanced services that customers want – and in some cases – even before they know it.
One of the best companies that exemplify this approach is Netflix. It combines data-driven decisions with creative choices to deliver content that viewers enjoy. The company tracks the viewing preferences of approximately 120 million subscribers who consume over 140 million hours of video every day over 450 million devices. On top of that, its system uses 1,000 tag types that classify content by genre, time period, plot conclusiveness, and even mood. This helps the company define micro-genres. Data like this aids decisions, such as whether to continue producing or running a show – allowing them to connect with viewers while retaining efficient use of their budget.
In the automotive industry, Tesla is a company that is leading the charge in terms of digital transformation. Apart from creating revolutionary electric vehicles, it is the only manufacturer in the world providing automatic over-the-air firmware updates that allow their fleet to improve their safety, performance, and infotainment capabilities automatically and remotely. The company is also using the same approach to improve original mechanical design features, including the look and feel of the touchscreen, which can be upgraded to continuously meet consumer expectations.
To build a Digital Business, enterprises have to deploy three main essential components:
A true Digital Business is 100-percent data-driven. Hence, companies must learn how to acquire data from all sources, analyze it for actionable insights, and act on data. More importantly, the speed at which they do so will determine if they are ahead or left behind.
For companies to discover and act on insights faster, they must have the right connectivity solution to support them. Only an Adaptive Network that is tailored to individual enterprise business needs can fulfill this requirement.
The Adaptive Network meets business objectives precisely and is able to help enterprises obtain the data that’s necessary for enhancing business performance. It is one that can scale up and down and builds new connections as those needs arise.
Adaptive Networking incorporates cloud-like flexibility, built-in automation, and flexible management to improve connectivity for better customer engagement. With the support of software-defined networks, enterprises can improve provisioning times by 50 – 80 percent while automated network management can enable greater speeds and reduced risk.
This foundation will lead to better IT Agility. Companies that get Adaptive Networking right can boost application performance by up to 25 percent. It’s all thanks to flexibility enabled by hybrid clouds, network-integrated performance, as well as multi-cloud management.
In the midst of digital transformation, enterprises must also be wary of the evolving threat landscape and understand how to protect their data and applications. At the speed at which complex threats evolve, the traditional reactive approach to cybersecurity is no longer enough. To stay protected, they need Connected Security solutions to employ a proactive strategy for dealing with cyber threats. This can be achieved by using the network as a threat sensor and combining it with threat intelligence that is continuously learning and improving.
Going digital to the core reaps rewards in the long run. Named the world’s best bank by Global Finance in 2018, DBS Bank embarked on its digital transformation journey in 2014 but it is paying off. Currently, it is earning S$700 more from its digital banking customers, as opposed to traditional methods. Its return to equity is 10 percent higher when compared the same way. This is largely due to its continuous investments in digital talent, including web and mobile app developers and UI designers, and transformation initiatives.
Deploying these three digital pillars that make a Digital Business is no simple task. To make that transformation journey successfully, it is critical for enterprises to work with a trusted technology partner that has a deep portfolio of solutions and services globally. A reliable partner would offer a comprehensive range of networking, hybrid cloud, security solutions, as well as managed services to add value in terms of convenience and cost-efficiency. Companies like CenturyLink are enabling the Digital Businesses vision for enterprises. We have helped organizations in over 60 countries to realize their own business goals with the power of our adaptive network, hybrid cloud offerings, security services and threat management. Make the journey to a Digital Business faster, smarter, and more securely with a reliable enabler today.