by Gordon Cullum, Chief Technology Officer, Mastek
Gordon Cullum, Chief Technology Officer at enterprise digital transformation specialist Mastek, explains what businesses need to do to truly transform in a post-digital world.
Digital transformation: the phrase almost seems a misnomer today, most commonly employed to relate to a multitude of marketing terms. In reality, digital transformation has always involved assessing how a business operates at the enterprise architectural level. It facilitates the way organisations enable processes such as customer service, order acquisition, automation and fulfilment to be correctly componentised and set up, so that customers can pick up and drop off anywhere they want to in a process.
Work backwards to truly digitise
Businesses must focus on re-engineering their back end so that anything can be enabled from the front end. Once that happens, the addition of mobile apps, portals and voice automation systems such as Alexa and smart interfaces become secondary to the transformation journey.
In the early 2000s, banks realised that the back ends of their systems were extremely difficult to change. As a result, most businesses decided to add a portal or mobile app to the front of this pre-existing system. While this helped to facilitate customer service agents, it didn’t digitalise the business in the true sense of the word.
End-to-end process control
To be truly digital, a business must have an overview of all its processes down to the granular level. It must assess its need for users to fill in a form, the operation of separate platforms, as well as all the steps that are involved in the process. Businesses should be API (application programming interface)-driven and provide a connection to the front end, which enables them to have complete control over back-end processes.
Not a standalone service
Several organisations, especially services companies, try to qualify large chunks of revenue as being “digitally driven”. They take liberties when it comes to describing digital programmes. For instance, some would claim that developing a mobile app is digital, or conducting data analysis at the back end is also digital. While this is true to an extent, to be genuinely digital, businesses must automate the entire business and not just some parts of it. At Mastek, we have categorised digital transformation in two ways. The first in which there are elements that enable a digital plan, but that’s not the same as saying it is digitally transformative, which is the second category. A business might start by implementing some small parts of an overall roadmap. The roadmap itself might be a digitalisation roadmap, but by saying that BI and analytics is digital is quite incorrect.
Digital transformation has evolved in such a way that a business can be truly accessible to the consumer across any channel, at any time and at any place.
A business only becomes digital when an entire transformation is delivered. The feedback driving a shift in a business’s channels is enabled if these channels are integrated with the back-end of a business’s architecture, driven by an API. A case in point is our partnership with Together, a leading UK provider of secured, commercial and buy-to-let mortgages. Our transformation work helped the company diversify its business offerings, double earnings and treble the loan book over a four-year period. This kind of growth wouldn’t have been possible without a transformation of the underlying business processes and technology infrastructure which together form an example of straight through processing.