Digital transformation

ET Polymers|February - March 2020

Digital transformation
World-class organisations can continue to reduce costs by embracing digital technology, while the peer group can leverage the same technology to catch up faster at less cost.
Dr. Pranjal Kumar Phukan

World-class procurement organisations remain highly focused on achieving optimal performance. Technology has always played an important role in enabling world-class performance, but procurement is now at an inflection point. World-class organisations can continue to reduce costs by embracing digital technology, while the peer group can leverage the same technology to catch up faster at less cost.

Digital transformation differs from previous approaches to technology-enabled change in many ways. It creates new ways of doing things. In the past, technology-enabled change predominately aimed at replacing manual processes and making them faster and more efficient. While the push to reduce cost and increase efficiency is on-going, as we move into the digital era, technologies like predictive analytics, social media, robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) are not only changing the speed and efficiency of processes but creating entirely new avenues for doing things.

Digital transformation is customer-centric. Past technology-driven transformations automated processes within and between enterprises. In contrast, digital transformation uses technology to engage internal and external customers through interactive cloud-based tools and portals, to provide better service to stakeholders, and to leverage big data and predictive analytics for better, faster insight.

Digital transformation increases the velocity of change. Not only have the speed and nature of technological change accelerated as new types and combinations of technologies are launched at a fast pace, but the speed of adoption has also risen dramatically.

The imperative

Cloud-based infrastructure and applications, virtual business and technology networks, and business analytics are converging with employees and consumers who are increasingly comfortable with new mobile technologies and business models. This has created tremendous opportunities for procurement organisations to apply digital technologies to transform service delivery. Increasingly, digital technology is the platform for delivering a whole new class of services, such as predictive analytics to guide decisions. Moreover, digitally-enabled processes reduce errors and make information easier to access.

Technology spends per procurement full-time equivalent (FTE) in world-class organisations is often higher than in the peer group, reflecting greater investments in areas such as process automation. These, in turn, deliver productivity advantages.

Raising the bar

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February - March 2020