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Digital Transformation Is All about Disruption

September 30, 2016 by Matthias Harbusch 180

Digital transformation is all about disruption. There are already tons of articles out there about the buzzword digital transformation and everyone has different thoughts and opinions on this hyped topic.

But I believe it is just a means to generate new business models, which are sometimes disruptive for them. And we can only benefit from all the discussions if we compare and contrast our attitudes to the evaluations of others. So let me explain to you my point of view.

It’s All About the Disruptive Factor

As already mentioned, digital transformation is really disruptive for a company in a given market, which leads me to the question: what is actually meant by “digital transformation”? The amount of definitions is just as overwhelming as the different perspectives on it. In my view, digital transformation refers to the activity of taking a step into a new world and not just for the sake of presenting something new.

Uber and Amazon are two great examples of disruptive businesses.

The taxi company Uber has made good use of the technological progress and the emerging opportunities and thus revolutionized the taxi market. They connect users and contracting parties even though they are actually just a platform – something which has existed a thousand times before, but the easiness of the platform and the flexibility of the business model are their distinguishing factors. Amazon, originally primarily an online platform, now makes a turnover and profit by leasing server space, a second and obviously very successful business part.

International phenomena, such as globalization, put pressure on organizations, which require them to react to changes and to meet new requirements. It’s not just about creating and the competitive edge while being oriented towards well-known competitors. Some companies, such as Tesla, are highly successful even though no one might have expected them to build efficient cars.

SAP offers solutions for all levels of disruption you can imagine. SAP HANA as the fastest database, SAP S/4HANA as the digital core and SAP HANA Cloud Platform provide all requirements needed to take a step into new businesses.

But I came to realize that way too often, approaches are company-focused and miss the broader picture. Challenges in the digital transformation cannot be reduced to the formula: new business model + breakthrough technology = digital transformation. There is more. As digital transformation is about more than technology and should put users at the forefront of all activities, the right formula is: reimagining business models + reimaging customer and user experience + leverage latest technology trends = design-led digital transformation.

Reimaging the user experience + leveraging latest technology trends = design-led digital transformation

Design to Innovate

Our customers usually state they wish to be more innovative, but lack the knowledge and tools to generate new ideas and business models. We use the design thinking methods and other innovative approaches to overcome this dilemma. Due to our strong end-user focus and close customer contact, we are able to identify huge potential for ideas. This is our differentiator. We observe users during their daily work and are therefore able to detect problems of which IT is often not aware.

In the exploration phase we discover and identify potential for optimized processes and new business models. We also derive the effects on internal business models and user interfaces which support these new processes.

But we don’t want to just save the world. Our expertise allows us to go a step further as we are also able to build and design impactful solutions which our customers desperately need. Customers often approach us with a specific problem they want to solve. Throughout our collaboration they realize that their problem might be bigger than expected or maybe even totally different to the initial problem they have identified. We help them to think broader and to leave their comfort zone in their business to expand, to go further to adapt processes. IT is usually just a supporting factor, but offers great potential for innovation.

The design part is an essential component and maybe the distinguishing factor. We don’t stay on the high level. This is where we start. We apply and adapt the design thinking method to the challenges our customers face and elaborate the details for disruptive business models to ultimately cause and support the transformation.

This is how we create deeper relationships between IT and business and design experiences for users. We are sometimes pushed into the corner of UX. But actually the skills of empathy and creativity enable us to apply our methods to business challenges. We do not only prepare our customers for the future, but design customized solutions both for and with them.

Digital transformation is not just happening out there, it is hitting us, which presents with the possibility and obligation to create it.

This story orignally appeared on the SAP User Experience Community.

Top image via Shutterstock

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