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Business innovation and digital transformation: How to stay ahead of the game

It is a well-known fact that in order to have their business flourish, managers and leaders must be constantly innovating in order to stay relevant, deliver great products/services, reduce costs and increase profitability.

This has been an established principle for years, where businesses would in the past invest into new processes and machinery to enhance their output or scalability.

One good example of this lies within Henry Ford’s moving assembly line that revolutionised Ford’s production in 1913, reducing the time it took to build the Model T from over 12 hours to around two and a half. This particular innovation lowered Ford’s costs in time and manpower allowing them, in turn, to lower their prices by around 65 per cent – making the automobile available to the masses and propelling Ford’s continued growth.

However, in today’s fast-paced digital landscape, there is a much greater potential for innovation within business. Between advances in artificial intelligence, automation, networking and computing power in general – technology has over recent years been able to equip business leaders with valuable tools and insights to improve their business models. This has helped corporations to streamline their processes, increase operational efficiency, improve revenue and deliver better products/experiences.

Where are we now?

Not long ago, the main focus for innovation in business was centred mainly on interfaces for client interactions and ERPs. However, the rate of technological growth continues on an exponential trend – with computing power doubling every 18 months as proposed in Moore’s law.

In line with this progression, business leaders are realising the value and importance of integrating new technologies and how they may be leveraged to update and improve outdated processes to the benefit of the business and its customers. Each day, new business applications for our increased computing capabilities are being successfully tested and deployed in emerging and evolving fields like MR, Fintech, IoT and behavioural/locational data.

At an increasing rate, executives are beginning to realise why it is so important to continually invest into new technologies and processes. That is, to stay ahead of the innovation curve, secure the future of the business and reap the gains that come with digital transformation.

Which technologies have the most potential?

Mixed Reality – the umbrella term for any combination or VR/AR – continues to evolve to a point where it is indistinguishable from the real world. This disruptive technology provides enormous opportunities in training, simulations as well as in customer-facing situations. From a virtual sales assistant guiding the customer through purchase options, to previewing furniture purchases within the home – there remain many large untapped opportunities with mixed reality for a number of sectors including transportation, services, hospitality and retail.

Similarly, IoT or ‘Internet of Things’ enabled devices have become more prevalent over recent years and their sensors are becoming increasingly more accurate. This has enabled businesses to generate both a higher volume and a richer quality of actionable consumer data. Alongside this, the sophistication of data analytics is ever-growing. Businesses that innovate with the wealth of insights that this data can provide towards improving customer touch points, UI/UX design and marketing efforts will be better equipped to serve the needs of their audience and excel over the competition.

The advent of blockchain and DLT or distributed ledger technology is a fairly recent development, giving rise to a number of potential innovations across many industries. Worldwide banks, financial institutions, SMEs and large corporates alike are unsure of whether this revolutionary technology and the benefits that come with a decentralised database and trustless transactions have a use case within their business.

What is clear, however, is that the successful implementation of these technologies and other budding tech innovations have the opportunity to disrupt and improve the way an organisation conducts business – and just how that will affect society and the working world is a hot topic.

Imagine the future

New technologies have already changed the way in which we move through society and interact with businesses and brands. In recent years, the advent of smartphones and the subsequent influx of big data has drastically affected how businesses operate and how we as users and consumers connect with the world around us.

This technological evolution will undoubtedly progress and integrate further into society as we continue forward. Human-computer interaction could begin to look very different if we continue at the current rate of innovation – any screen, window or surface may become an interface, with AR/MR devices adding even more location-based and experiential interactions on top.

Artificial Intelligence will very soon have progressed to a point where it could essentially ‘see’ and ‘feel’ – providing a wealth of new data and enhanced controls for the user. Our interactions with machines will be personalised, dynamic and responsive — with superposition of interfaces and devices adding even more complexity for UX.

Machines will also know more about us in general. In addition to gender, age, relationship status, income and search history known today – our emotions and actual physical status will be detected. The potential for advertising and discovery through data is enormous in this connected future.

Progression in serverless computing, distributed and decentralised applications also has the potential to spawn community-governed projects, offering a high level of trust and low level of control from central service providers. These ‘community projects’ will become powerful competitors and opportunities for growth for corporates in the future.

Overall, the future will reveal currently unseen relations and consequences between businesses, the public sector and individuals but in order to extract value corporations will need to develop new methods of exchanging insights and data. This extends well beyond current data mining/processing facilities and ERP integrations seen today.

How to begin the process of innovation

While beneficial to your business, employees and customers – integrating new and disruptive technologies or methodologies into your business can be quite an expensive process. Unless you are willing to match the R&D spend that giants like Amazon and Google incur each year – with Amazon reporting a record-breaking spend of 23 billion US dollars in 2017 — then outsourcing your innovation may be the best solution.

Hiring a reputable third party to innovate and develop new internal systems can be a very cost-effective way to increase profitability, expand your reach and reduce cost in your supply chains and back-office procedures. Alongside the benefits of bringing in a fresh perspective and saving the time of internal team members, a large, specialised vendor (over 10 years in the market and over 1,000 engineers) will have already established reliable R&D departments. Bringing on a third party with such experience and tried and tested methodologies can save a business great time and cost when researching and implementing innovative technologies – and will increase the efficacy of any resulting initiatives.

Having a wealth of knowledge of how to streamline a number of processes from the range of verticals they have worked within – third-party development teams and innovation consultants are motivated differently to employees and internal teams; being committed primarily to results and building lasting client relationships, not just compliance with service-level formalities.

Dedicated agencies are also likely to carry out regular in-house R&D to stay up to date with industry trends, innovations and new tools in the field. If outsourcing to a specialised service provider is the route a business takes, they could have access to the newest ideas and technological advances the developmental industry has to offer, without spending thousands on employee salaries where man hours could be wasted on industry research, resulting in the potential for less output for the business.

Outsourcing innovation and technical development

Finding a vendor with the ability to deliver, who has a team comprised of relevant and up-to-date technical experts and is willing to work very closely with your business in order to maximise the impact of digital transformation can be a challenge – but NIX United is on hand to help.

Promoting a culture of honesty, integrity and digital excellence for their clients – NIX have worked with hundreds of businesses across a range of industries in order to implement technologies that increase efficiency, bolster the quality of products or services and to open new doors and revenue streams through technology.

The views expressed in this opinion editorial are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.