A Fresh Look at Digital Transformation

As the CEO of a web performance analytics company, I have a front-row seat in the technology auditorium. Because many of the largest brands in the world rely on us to provide a successful online user experience, I get an early look at emerging trends.

It is increasingly clear that we are at the beginning of a massive, disruptive digital transformation that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and consume. By 2020, the digital economy could contribute an astounding $20 trillion to the global economy. Today's consumers are mobile, social and hyper-connected. Storefronts are now open 24 hours a day, and online consumers have very high expectations of their digital user experience.

The Technology Skills Gap

The biggest challenge around digital transformation is the skills gap -- and getting needed expertise at the right time. Companies will find themselves with neither the skills to fulfill demand nor a good source for hiring those skills directly.

The narrow-minded view is that digital transformation and automation kill jobs. Actually, though, in this new digital economy, millions of jobs will be created. And enterprises will not have enough skilled people for all the jobs that will be created.

This shift in the workplace will fuel a transference of skills, a revolution led by a new generation leading the charge and transferring skills to the existing workforce.

You can have the best tools in the world, but they are useless if you do not have people who know how to use them. In other words, people want the car AND the driver. Thus, enterprises will want more than a software solution; they will also want service and support, more than ever before.

At the same time, demand for self-service capabilities will expand.

Big Data and Automating Tasks

Beyond the transference of skills, however, is the fact that companies will be innovating around speed and tasks that humans simply can't do. Artificial intelligence will be key -- AI will become an essential part of all Big Data analytics engines. There is just too much data and too little time to manually drill down into all of it.

The Big Data Revolt

Yes, the modern C-suite is flooded with data, yet only a fraction of that data is used in any meaningful way. One CIO recently told me that he uses 25 monitoring tools that gather a lot of data but yield very little insight. It is a case of too many swim lanes and not enough water. Companies do not want more tools. They want more actionable insights, counsel and support -- to create simplicity out of complexity.

Those who win will be those who have captured all their data and architected an environment that can provide meaningful real-time insights all the time.

Time Is Money

Today's digital economy is run on only one dial tone: time is money. Every millisecond of a digital user experience must be managed. Today, if your site experiences heavy latency or, God forbid, fails, every second represents lost revenues and/or damaged brand reputation. Consumers are only three clicks away from buying the same or a similar product on another web site.

We no longer have the luxury of reaction time.

The Only Constant Is Change -- So Deal with It

Here are my top four suggestions for dealing successfully with digital transformation disruption:

  1. Know your customers and their shifting requirements -- because your customers are your best compass.
  2. Give them that extra touch called great customer experience -- because customers demand it and you can't build loyalty without it.
  3. Leverage performance analytics and big data to prioritize work -- because you can't do everything, and today's technologies make smart prioritization feasible.
  4. Always measure, test and optimize -- because you need to earn your customers' business 24x7x365 in the digital age.

In our digital era, with all aspects of modern life being transformed, the only constant is change. From my front-row seat in the technology auditorium the future is clear. Digital is changing everything -- and we must think differently about everything as a result.