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Digital Transformation for the Hotel Industry

 

Integrating content creation, curation and dissemination skills into business operations is a must to meet the challenges brought by e-disruptions.

Faced with powerful waves of digital disruption coming from every direction and unexpected competition from one of the digital era’s most spectacular success stories – Airbnb – large traditional hotel groups have had no choice but to embrace change and transform their organizations to become more digital, more agile and thus, more competitive.

A new INSEAD case study, AccorHotels and the Digital Transformation: Enriching Experiences through Content Strategies along the Customer Journey, co-authored with INSEAD Marketing Professor Joerg Niessing, Research Associate Jean Wee, and Marketing Professor Inyoung Chae from  Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, explores AccorHotels’ response to this powerful wave of digital disruption and ambitious digital transformation, aiming to return the customer to the centre of its strategy and operations.

One of the key game changers in the industry has been consumer empowerment:  Consumers’ access to information – about prices, destination choices, the possibility of alternative styles of accommodation and sharing experiences with a global audience – has become increasingly fluid, blindsiding many traditional players.

Whereas hotels would once court travel agents and retain tight control over their relationships with their customers and other stakeholders, a new breed of online travel agents (OTAs) and digital influencers have had an increasingly strong bearing on consumer decisions along with the opinion of peers and other travellers sharing their experiences at great length: the good, the bad and the previously unheard-of.

Emerging actors like TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Agoda and Expedia have taken on multiple roles from hosting reviews to offering discounted flights and hotel deals and have reshaped the industry by becoming the primary factor driving bookings. At the same time, alternative lodging sites such as Homestay, onefinestay (which AccorHotels acquired in April 2016) and Airbnb have changed customers’ attitudes and expectations regarding the accommodation industry. In 2015, hotels in New York City alone lost around US$450 million in direct revenues to Airbnb – a 2008 start-up which was now boasting a valuation of US$30 billion, US$10 billion more than that of Marriott International.

Content avalanche

Common to these digital disruptions was the rapid accumulation of content from videos, reviews or images that increasingly influenced consumers’ travel planning and purchasing behaviour. Friends, bloggers and social media reviewers were educating consumers on what experiences to expect, encouraging and empowering guests to tell more, complain more and expect more; and giving them greater ability to switch when their increasing expectations were not met.

To meet this challenge it had become crucial for hotel chains like AccorHotels to rethink their approach to their online presence and place content at the heart of its strategies. In particular, if incumbents needed to meet these e-challenges, they first needed to acquire the skills to listen to online content and be aware of what their consumers were saying about their hotels online using digital intelligence. Focusing inward, they needed to think about how to consider online content in their ROI calculation and business operations as a new metric of success via e-reputation integrationLooking outward, AccorHotels needed to foster a dynamic approach to produce and disseminate online content on platforms that would balance where the content about its hotels was and integrate the new dynamic into business operations with content production and dissemination.

Designing a digital transformation plan

AccorHotels – a diverse group operating more than 4,000 hotels in 95 countries, spanning the spectrum from luxury to budget – needed to identify the different types of content that existed online and understand their relevance as well as how each could create (and destroy) value at the different stages of the traveller’s journey (from dreaming about a place to booking it, experiencing a place and post-stay activities).

To address this challenge, AccorHotels began to develop and integrate social media listening (SML), systematically scrutinising reviews and customer comments and complaints on OTAs, metasearch and review sites. Adopting IT applications that alerted the company to relevant public conversations on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and online platforms helped AccorHotels to become more customer-centric by following its customers along each step of their journeys.

A content powerhouse

Creating content was also crucial to establishing the hotelier’s presence and e-reputation. Two sources of information were particularly important: hotel-generated images and text, published by hotels on their own websites, promoting the hotel itself or its organisation, describing rooms, services prices, etc.; and user-generated content such as blogs, travel site comments, and reviews. The former is content mostly aiming to educate and convert and tends to appeal rationally rather than emotionally while user-generated content is  often written to entertain and persuade; its “shareability” making it an even more powerful and effective way of increasing the conversion rate.

To leverage content, AccorHotels initially engaged in partnerships with sites such as TripAdvisor, which helped to dispatch content on the company’s sites and through other channels for maximum effect. The information – what customers were saying about Accor before, during and after their trip – was collected and used to encourage other guests to share their positive experiences and views and, importantly, to attract customers to the company’s own website for booking thus avoiding the hefty commission fees demanded by OTAs like Booking.com.

Finally, embracing the digital revolution required breaking down of traditional silos within the organisation, between functions such as marketing, strategy, finance and human resources. For AccorHotels, this meant (1) ensuring that insights collected would be widely shared within the company and (2) creating a system to integrate e-reputation into incentive schemes to increase collaborators’ accountability. Information generated by the hotel, consumers, and other industry stakeholders became widely shared across internal departments. In addition, AccorHotels worked to create a system so that everyone from the front desk to the back-end service staff had to be prepared to incorporate the firm’s online reputation into their everyday duties. To this end, the new objectives were linked to employee incentives.

Value creation in a digital world

In the face of dynamic competition and more informed and chatty customers, a plan such as the one AccorHotels implemented should not be an exception. It should be the rule. In fact, several forward-thinking brands across services (e.g., banks, insurance companies, food services, transport and distribution) have implemented similar approaches to embrace the challenge offered by digital disruptions. Tomorrow, a major driver of value creation will lie in companies’ ability to perform content capture, creation, curation and dissemination within an omni-channel and customer-centric approach.

Everything You Need to Know About Airline Digital Transformation

Business analytics in the aviation industry
Airline Digital Transformation is revolutionizing the aviation industry. In recent years we have seen an impressive wave of digital innovations across the sector. From flag carriers to LCCs, from the new breed of regional airlines to long-haul specialists, the airline digital transformation opportunity is being grabbed with both hands.
While the most innovative digital airlines are charging ahead, there’s still time for other industry players to catch up.

So, what is an airline’s digital transformation? And, what are the outcomes for companies that implement digital transformation programs?

In this guide, we look at the top 10 critical, actionable outcomes that the airline board and management team can expect from embracing airline digital transformation:

Customer-facing outcomes from the digital transformation of airlines

  • 1. Better Passenger experience (thanks to personalization and customization)
  • 2. Boost ancillary sales
  • 3. Address customer lifetime value
  • 4. Improve customer support
  • 5. Efficient crisis and disruption management

Business-facing benefits when airlines go digital

  • 6. Easier partner/channel integration
  • 7. Insightful business analytics
  • 8. Protect brand value
  • 9. Create a virtuous cycle of innovation
  • 10. Protect against market disruption

In this article, we’ll explore what an airline digital transformation involves, and see how it enables all of the above outcomes.

We also highlight some of the key challenges involved in implementing digital transformation programs, as well as seeing how to overcome them by overlaying an agile solution to your current IT assets.

What is digital transformation in airlines?

Let’s start with a definition. According to CIO.com, a digital transformation “marks a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people, and processes to fundamentally change business performance”.

An airline digital transformation is not just about modernizing your software or migrating back end systems to the cloud. Instead, it’s about taking a new look at how your airline could incorporate the latest hardware and software into its processes to better serve its customers, generate more value and become more efficient.

DIGITALIZATION IS DRIVING THE FUTURE OF BANKING

Smart digital business models will unlock a wave of new opportunities, innovation and revenue streams in a rapidly digitilised banking landscape, says leading business and technology consultancy Capco.

The banking landscape as we know it is changing. A new wave of technology is revolutionising the way customers engage with their finances. From social to mobile capabilities, banks are having to rethink the way they do business to deliver a better customer experience and remain competitive.

The recent introduction of open banking and the Payments Services Directive 2 (PSD2) regulation is accelerating this transformation by placing power in the hands of customers. Banks must now allow customers to share their financial data, such as spending habits and regular payments, with authorised third-party providers if customers wish to do so. To navigate this unchartered reality, banks must ensure their digital offering is fit for purpose.

Dan Jones, partner and head of Capco’s UK Digital practice, says convenience, speed and flexibility are no longer considered attractive add-ons, but have become a standard expectation of the rapidly changing customer-bank relationship. According to Mr Jones, successful organisations will be those that can keep pace with customer needs and demands, and embed appropriate services into the wider ecosystem of digital products.

Agile approach

Banks traditionally operated in silo channels, with different business areas operating independently of each other. Although they accumulated vast amounts of data about their customers, such an approach could not provide specific insight into customer activity, needs and preferences from which to develop new products tailored to the individual.

For Mr Jones, the pace at which regulation and digitalisation is developing means banks need to adopt an agile, iterative way of working to remain competitive. They need to put the customer at the heart of the design process and take new products to market quickly.

“The introduction of open banking and PSD2 will see a new way of banking emerge,” he explains. “It will allow the industry to innovate and enhance customer service, and help new entrants gain a share of new financial products and services. But banks will only stay ahead of the game if they embrace an agile approach and view the changes as an opportunity rather than an obligation.”

Of course, the move to this new way of working does not come without its challenges. Large banks have built their technology and data around individual products and channels, and are beholden to legacy systems.

Banks need to reach a point where they understand the needs of the customer, without taking any direct feedback

To overcome this, banks must invest in technological capabilities that allow them to become more intelligent about customers’ needs, says Mr Jones. They must incorporate the right architecture to respond quickly and drive an agile culture throughout all the corners of the business.

Chris Probert, Capco partner and head of UK data, explains: “Both top and bottom-line growth depend on banks overcoming the challenge of large and costly legacy infrastructures. As transactions and services continue to move from the physical to the purely digital, banks will find speed to market and flexibility invaluable.”

Smart data

Tech-savvy customers are increasingly seeking a user experience nuanced to their particular needs. Central to a bank’s success in the digital economy is therefore the data they accumulate about customers and intelligent ways of processing it.

Digitalisation and data are so tightly entwined, one could not function without the other. You only need look at the phenomenal success stories of Amazon, Facebook and Google to understand the impact customer data has on customer experience.

While challenger banks have the distinct advantage of being agile and customer centric, legacy banks potentially have the upper hand due to the sheer volume of data they hold, as well as being trusted, long-established brands.

Mr Probert says: “Legacy banks have a huge challenge in implementing digital strategies, but if they harness the data they have and maximise the effectiveness of its uses, they could develop successful client-orientated products. What they must not do is sleepwalk into the future and be leapfrogged by the challengers.”

For both legacy and challenger banks, the operative word is “harness”. Captured data is only useful if banks can use it effectively. Banks must ensure they have easily accessible, high-quality data. This is where technology such as data virtualisation has a key role to play.

“It’s not about volume; the true game-changer will the application,” says James Arnett, Capco partner. “The future is real-time, data-driven services. By gleaning meaningful insights, they can create audience segmentation and deliver innovative, customised products in a way that appeals to customers.

“Banks need to reach a point where they understand the needs of the customer, without taking any direct feedback.”

(click to enlarge)

Digital collaboration

While we have come to expect driverless cars and robots will be part of our not-so-distant future, it should be equally straightforward for us to envisage a future banking system with its own form of artificial intelligence (AI).

If there is one thing we can bet on, it’s that time waits for no bank

Many banks have already taken advantage of AI-enabled tools such as chatbots to interact with customers, but that is just the cusp of what is to come. From virtual financial assistants to automated credit scoring and predictive analysis, AI has the potential to refashion organisations on an unprecedented scale.

Mr Jones explains: “From a customer point of view, machine-learning is starting to enhance their experience in smart ways, quickly and efficiently resolving their problems.

“Perhaps more importantly, AI and machine-learning will allow banks to spot patterns and solve customer problems at a fraction of the current speed in a very cost-efficient manner. It’s about making informed assumptions about the future that will drive customer value.”

This second wave of disruption will have a powerful impact, transforming the banking industry and with it the customer journey. Now is the time for banks to seize the opportunities technology presents to shift to the next gear. Because if there is one thing we can bet on, it’s that time waits for no bank.


Q&A: Open banking revolutionises the face of financial services

Lance Levy, Capco CEO
Lance Levy, Capco CEO

How have banks responded to the launch of open banking?
This is the beginning of what is shaping up to be a very exciting new chapter for the financial services industry. Around the world, the digital revolution means customers are looking to transform the way they bank and manage their money.

In Europe, the Payments Services Directive 2 is setting application programming interface (API) standards for payments and the same is happening across the UK. These regulations have been designed with increased competition in mind and to offer
customers greater control over their money. However, the emergence of a new API-enabled market is a game-changer. It has the power to fragment products and services that large banks have historically owned, on an unprecedented scale. It will allow new providers to enter the market and transform banks into open platforms.

Until now, these banks have largely focused on becoming compliant with open banking regulation. However, I believe we will see a wave of technological innovation, especially through the latter half of 2018, as banks and new providers alike look to unlock revenue streams we haven’t yet imagined.

There is a huge potential for banks to transform their products and services, but the key is to focus their attention in the right way. Open banking requires banks to think beyond their own needs and business growth; they must meet untapped customer needs and prove invaluable to distributors.

Is the customer ready for open banking?
In recent years, we have seen the boom in technology bring about a shift in consumer expectations. Today’s digital-savvy customer views apps and websites as an eco-system, so yes, customers are ready and the financial services industry must keep pace.

This is particularly the case for millennials and generation Z, who have grown up in an era where efficiency, speed and interconnected devices are the norm. Older generations, however, tend to have stronger ties to their financial providers, so may be slower to embrace the change.

Open banking offers consumers lots of tangible benefits, including new insights to help them better manage their money, access to products that may not have been previously available and the opportunity to obtain a single view of their finances.

The younger consumers are looking for services that are tailored to their “money milestones” and they’re prepared to put their trust in third parties that may not be banks. They have grown up during a period of financial turmoil and slow economic recovery; there is less loyalty to the big banks. They want lower prices coupled with better quality service and the introduction of open banking will help them achieve that.

Will we see significant changes in the banking business model?
While open banking presents an unrivalled opportunity for startups and fintechs to move into unchartered territory, it also allows existing organisations to improve their offering; it is challenging banks to raise their game.

Banks need to remember that they do not have a captive audience. Times have changed and some clients will migrate where the best services are, regardless of where the underlying product sits. For example, customers could use a new fintech app, banking website and customer service model, but the current account that sits at the heart of it is held with an existing large bank that the customer will no longer interact with directly.

First and foremost, banks must decide if they want to continue to own the customer relationship. Banks hold a huge amount of raw data and information, but they need to be smarter in the way they utilise it for the benefit of the customer. Digital-first services offer greater value to consumers and banks need to work out how they will tackle this. They can either form partnerships with aggregators to take ownership of the user interface or they could choose to retain ownership through building their own platform.

I believe organisations are becoming much savvier about building collaborations to deliver best results for customers. We’ve already seen some fantastic examples of partnerships in this space and, going forward, I expect we will see the emergence of new and exciting collaborations, tools and services as banks seek to find their way in the new market.

How can banks monetise the data they have?
You need only look at companies like Google and Uber to see the vast benefits of being smart with data. Banks are in a uniquely powerful position with the volume of data they possess, and we are a seeing a global shift towards not only capturing and analysing data, but monetising it.

Developments in data analytics have allowed financial institutions to obtain a 360-degree view of the customer, enabling them to improve the range of services and enter new markets. Open banking will lead to a rise in data exchange between banks and third parties, and I think we will see banks increasingly recognise the value of offering free services in return for data. Ultimately, if a customer feels they are being offered a relevant, tailored product, they are far more likely to buy it.

Digital Transformation in the Finance Industry

The finance industry is uniquely poised to take advantage of digital transformation — possibly more so than any other business sector. As a matter of fact, digital transformation in finance is such a hot topic that a recent study, conducted by MIT’s Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, found that 90 percent of finance professionals believe digital technologies are somewhat or greatly disrupting the financial services industry.

What’s even more interesting is that 93 percent of financial services companies with a digital strategy are primarily focused on improving their customer experience — or CX — while a mere 46 percent of companies feel that they are adequately prepared for the digital disruption that lies ahead.

To illustrate how disruptive digital transformation is, compare it to a rock that’s thrown into a calm body of water. The concentric waves emanating from the rock represent the opportunities it unlocks — and for financial services, these opportunities can be everything from streamlined, more cost-effective operations to better performance and more desirable consumer products.

Combined, these statistics tell an important story about the growing role that enterprise-wide digital transformation will assume in the financial services sector. To help you better understand this phenomenon, the team at Consolidated Technologies, Inc. would like to take this opportunity to share our considerable IT solutions expertise to provide you with answers to what digital transformation actually is, what important digital trends are happening in the financial services industry and how you can best leverage digital transformation to your company’s advantage.

What Is Meant by Digital Transformation?

One of the most important things to remember about digital transformation — often referred to as DT — is that it has as much to do with people solving business-related problems and streamlining processes as it is about the digital technology they use to do so. For this reason, the concept of digital transformation can have a positive impact on a broad range of business operations, from in-house loan verification processes to outward-facing online banking customer portals.

Ultimately, digital transformation in finance is proving to be a successful business strategy instead of merely a technology strategy. Just think about how modern banking progressed from traditional brick-and-mortar branch offices to ATMs and finally to mobile banking apps, and you’ll begin to understand how digital technology offers everyone from customers to employees more options, greater convenience and, above all, better experiences.

As McKinsey Global Institute points out, the digital transformation of an organization is typically assessed by the use of three key indicators: the company’s number of digital assets, the proliferation of digital usage and the level of trained digital workers.

Digital Trends in Financial Services

Digital transformation in financial services in 2018 involves some of the most exciting trends the world of technology has ever seen resulting from the myriad applications of artificial intelligence (AI) to the hyperconnectivity of the Internet of Things (IoT). These trends include:

  • Agile enterprises: After the many lessons learned from the last financial crisis, a company’s ability to increase its agility — otherwise known as its capacity to respond effectively to a disruptive environment — is a key trend in the industry. But to support the type of continuous innovation and improvement that forms the cornerstone of agility, financial institutions need fast, reliable access to growing amounts of data without creating time-consuming manual labor processes.
  • Increased collaboration: As business leaders across multiple industries embrace the team structure as an operational model and accept the democratization of data, nowhere is the need to collaborate as strong as in the financial sector. Of course, financial enterprises still need to adhere to strict regulatory standards that enforce a siloed approach to select business units. Nevertheless, for other business units, the ability to effectively communicate and work collaboratively can mean the difference between getting to the finish line first and not getting there at all.
  • Risk assessment: Whenever financial services organizations can improve their risk assessment capabilities, they quickly reap the rewards. This fact means that the collection, storage and analysis of big data is of the utmost importance to a financial services firm. For example, the fast and accurate completion of a due diligence process before a large merger and acquisition can make life-changing differences for the investors, companies and employees affected by it.

Leveraging Digital Transformation in the Financial Services Sector

By reaping the benefits of digital transformation, financial services with a robust digital strategy will see improvements from the following advantages:

  • AI supports better decisions: Eliminating human-induced errors — ranging from miscalculation to misfiling — and increasing a company’s access to more real-time data facilitates better decision-making abilities. When deals are on the line, everyone involved benefits when the decision-makers have more comprehensive and timely reports at their disposal. This need is why AI that continually learns and improves upon repeatable processes can be a real game-changer.
  • DT attracts talent: It’s no secret that nearly half of today’s financial professionals are considering leaving their present organization if they’re not given better access to the training and tools they need to take advantage of digital transformation. What this development means, of course, is that not only will companies that embrace digital transformation be more agile in the future, but they’ll also attract better and more innovative talent. This talent ultimately forms the crucial bridge between tech and humans, making digital transformation work successfully for an organization.
  • Automation engages customers: The outward-facing potential of digital transformation is huge when it comes to attracting, engaging and tracking customers. In a world of always-on, always accessible online opportunities, financial services will rely more and more on efficient, automated platforms to provide customers with an improved CX while simultaneously collecting crucial data regarding their progression through the purchase and lifecycle of products and services.

Digital transformation in the distribution industry

digital transformation distribution

Your ability to use data will rely on your ability to digitize, gaining the speed, reliability, and control you need to take on advancing competition.

Distribution is a tough business. High levels of competition, shrinking margins, and higher expectations make it easy to feel the pressure. The supply chain is changing and with this, so is the market. And guess what? You’re right in the middle of it.

Remaining competitive in distribution will rely on a variety of tactics and strategies, but if you’re looking to get and stay ahead, you will need to transform your business and find new ways to use data, analytics, and engagement.

For the distribution industry, whose members are already pressured by competition from everyone ranging from traditional competitors to firms including Amazon and Wal-Mart, your ability to use data will rely on your ability to digitize, gaining the speed, reliability, and control you need to take on advancing competition.

What is digital transformation?

One of those phrases that has gotten thrown around a lot in recent years has been the term “digital transformation.” A term that could include anything from going paperless in the office to a complete overhaul of the way your business operates, it all starts with understanding how to apply technology—something we discussed in a recent blog.

In the blog, we used definitions from Technopedia, finding that

“Digital transformation is the changes associated with digital technology application and integration into all aspects of human life and society. […] Digital tools and technology are changing how people interact, and in turn this changes how people do business. […] In a more business-related aspect, digital transformation refers to how a company has or is transforming its core business processes using digital technology in order to gain competitive advantage and gain differentiation in its market segment.”

However, there are also challenges for companies in every industry, as too many leaders think it’s both a standard process and a metamorphosis, and that they will walk into work one day with a ‘transformed’ business. This is not the case. Digital transformation not only differs from industry to industry, it differs from company to company.

Early steps for distributors looking to transform

Knowing this, it is helpful to find a starting point and early steps, including the process of identifying where you stand, what technologies you currently have, where you hope to be, and what actions you will need to take to get to your ideal state.

Knowing where your distribution firm and your supply chain stand

As mentioned above, digital transformations are happening at different levels across all industries. As the company who often connects manufacturers or other suppliers to retailers and in turn end users, you have watched both sides adopt new digital technologies in their own ways. While this has likely changed the way you’re working with them, your competitive advantage will be built on your ability to embrace the changes they have put on you.

Addressing this will require you to take a hard look at your current business practices, technologies, and understand how you will fit into the supply chain.

Looking at your technology stack

From the c-suite to the ground-floor employees, every team member should understand why adopting digital technologies, cloud ERP software and emerging technologies (e.g. IoT, AI, robotics, next gen security), is absolutely necessary for being able to exchange data across the organization. This information can then be used to make strategic, effective decisions, meeting modern expectations from across the supply chain, and innovation.

A solid technology foundation and a clear digital strategy—which includes asking the right questions, setting clear goals and the steps to achieving them, getting input from people throughout the organization, and providing ongoing informational and training sessions—will keep the transformation moving forward.

Understanding what you will need

The digital changes also provide a window for distribution companies to rethink business models. Companies need to consider whether they will become disruptive players or are at risk of being disrupted by upstarts or competitors.

For distribution companies, this starts with being able to understand your products better. How did they get there, where are they, and how do you get them to your customers? What’s profitable? How can we do something faster, cheaper, or better than our competitors?

As we discussed in an earlier blog, there are four key components to making a digital transformation a reality: cloud computing, mobile technologies, the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics.

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN EDUCATION INDUSTRY

The COVID-19 pandemic that has affected economies worldwide has also beaten up the education industry in both developed and developing countries. Approximately 1.5 billion students that include 90% of all primary, tertiary and secondary level learners in the world are unable to go to school physically. The impact has been transformative as education providers are looking forward to implementing technology solutions to enable remote teaching and learning. However, digital transformation in education industry is not restricted to online teaching and learning post-COVID19.

Though some educational institutes have been using tech solutions for the last many years, most of the schools and universities have now realized the significance of digital transformation in education world amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Governments across different countries are making efforts to mitigate the immediate impact of school closures and facilitate the education continuity for all.

Many educational institutes are providing remote learning to students while some of the institutes are preparing to get back to the new normal and with the help of new tech solutions.

In this article, we shall discuss the following topics:

  1. What is Digital Transformation in Education?
  2. What are the 3 main areas of Digital Transformation in Education?
    • Digital Transformation in Campus Environment
    • Digital Transformation in Learning Environment
    • Digital Transformation in Teaching Methods
  3. What needs to be considered when thinking about Digital Transformation in Education Sector?
How Education industry is transformed digitally?

1. What is Digital Transformation in Education?

2. What are the 3 main areas of Digital Transformation in Education?

Digital Transformation in Campus Environment

Though Denmark eased its lockdown on April 14th and reopened schools and daycare centers, parents have a concern that they might become grounds for a second wave of COVID-19 cases due to which they are not sending their children to schools. Parents can overcome the fear of not sending children to schools if there are some strategies in place that ensure educational institutes are safe for children and do not have a risk of infection.

We believe that technology can help determine whether students should start going to school or university.

Following are some of the technologies and applications that can help transform the environment at school/university premises:

  • Thermal Screening at Entry
    Authorities at schools can use thermal imaging equipment to detect if a student’s or teacher’s body temperature is normal or above the normal range.In case, the body temperature is found to be high; authorities should not allow that student or teacher to enter the school and suggest them to visit a doctor for the treatment.The essential data of students and teachers captured by thermal equipment can be sent to the cloud using which educational institutes can identify if that person came in contact with anyone at the campus and trace all contacts to contain the spread of the virus.
  • Contactless Attendance
    Schools/Universities need to replace the biometric attendance systems with contactless attendance to avoid the risk of the spread of the virus.In the biometric attendance system, many people successively touch the attendance system that poses a risk. Therefore, it is essential for schools, universities and all other educational institutes to avoid punching attendance in biometric systems.We have introduced a better replacement to biometric systems, which is a contactless attendance system. As the name suggests, contactless attendance does not involve anyone to come in contact.

    Using a contactless attendance system does not require setting up new hardware equipment. Instead, you can use your existing IP or CCTV cameras that will capture a person’s face and mark their attendance by identifying them with facial recognition.

    IP cameras can be installed at the entrance of the institute and classes that will capture the faces of teachers and students and add their face data along with time log to the attendance record in real-time. It will reduce the risk of infection exposure.

  • Social Distancing Alert System
    Many educational institutes are open now; however, there is a need that both teachers and students should adhere to guidelines provided to contain the risk of COVID-19.Students and teachers both need to follow social distancing and should maintain a specific distance so that infection does not spread from one person to another. However, it seems impossible to keep an eye on everyone manually, whether they are maintaining social distancing or not.

    But, there is a solution to monitor people by using a social distancing alert system. Our team of technology experts has built a social distancing alert system that uses AI and Computer Vision to detect the distance between two or more people and send a notification to them or concerned authorities to take action against them. With existing IP or CCTV cameras, it can become possible to track people and monitor if they have a specific distance between them or not.

    In case someone is not found to be maintaining distancing at an educational institute, strict action can be taken against them. It will help you ensure that the institute is safe for teachers and students.

  • Face Mask Detection System
    To ensure the safety of students and staff, face mask detection systems can be used at schools and universities. Wearing a face mask can save lives and help contain the spread of the virus.Educational institutes should make it mandatory for everyone to wear face masks all the time. Therefore, the institute administration needs to monitor if everyone is wearing face masks or not.

    You won’t require a new hardware setup to use the face mask detection technology in your school or university. Instead, you can use your existing IP or CCTV cameras to enable the face mask detection solution and find people without masks. The system uses computer vision and AI to track if everyone is wearing face masks or not. If anyone is seen without a mask, the system sends a notification to the recognized person or concerned authorities.

    Using face mask detection can help you create a safe environment for students and staff when schools/universities will reopen.

Digital Transformation in Learning Environment

Educational institutes have started to realize the significance of digital transformation in education industry with the increased use of online classes and video conferencing solutions. It is the right time to implement and build technology solutions that will transform the way learning is offered to students.

Let’s understand how technology can help bring efficiency to the new learning methods.

  • Video Conferencing Solutions for Overseas Studies
    The crisis currently impacts international education, and students are unable to go abroad and pursue their higher studies. Delaying courses or studies is not an option. Online assessments can be done and universities can facilitate virtual onboarding and admission of students.Schools/universities can integrate video conferencing solutions into their app or website to allow students in different countries to continue their studies. They can attend online classes and webinars and attend physical classes once international traveling is permitted.
  • AR/VR for the better learning experience
    The education sector needs to embrace new technologies to stay up-to-date in the ever-evolving world. Augmented and virtual reality is the next level of evolution in the learning system.With Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, you can create an interactive and virtual environment for your students. These technologies can make the process of explaining complex concepts easier by implementing an interactive visual-audio factor.

    Using VR, you can take your students on the virtual tour to different places and children will feel like they have actually reached there. Also, it can help you deliver a practical explanation of educational concepts and students can understand it effectively.

    For example, one of the AR apps, Elements 4D allows students to combine various elements to study chemistry in action. Elements 4D is a set of beautifully designed wooden blocks that can come to life using DAQRI’s 4D app. Each face of the block represents a different chemical symbol, depicting elements of the periodic table. Beaming the app’s viewfinder onto the blocks would instantly convert them into 4D representations of that element. It will help learners gain a better understanding of chemistry concepts.

    Implementing VR/AR would also reduce the need to touch the physical object that you are using for experimentation. As touching the same objects successively can increase the risk of spread of the virus, VR can enable touchless learning experience for students, minimizing the risk post-COVID-19.

  • Adaptive Learning
    Using Adaptive Learning Technologies, educational institutes can personalize content and educational experiences in innovative ways.Adaptive Learning involves using specific teaching devices to handle interaction with learners. It is used to deliver custom solutions to meet the learning needs of particular individuals.

    Adaptive Learning is also defined as an educational system based on data analysis that facilitates faculties to monitor students’ performance and adjust programs to every learner’s needs.

    For example, Quizalize is a learning platform that helps teachers convert boring tests into interactive and fun games. The platform differentiates learning automatically depending on the student’s performance.  

    Implementing AI in educational software can help bring adaptive learning to the students.

  • Learning Apps/Platforms
    COVID-19 has resulted in schools shutdown of schools all across the world. As a result, the education sector has transformed drastically with the rise of online learning, where students are joining digital platforms for learning.Many educational institutes are turning into edtech startups and launching learning apps for students using which students can access notes, their curriculum and give mock tests for exam preparation. It helps them continue their studies without any interruption.

    As an education provider, you can build an interactive learning platform for your students that allows them to access the best study content in the form of text, PDFs, images, audios and videos.

  • AI and Chatbots
    Many institutions are looking to adopt the use of chatbots to meet student expectations while maximizing faculty time. AI-enabled chatbots can be used to analyze students’ responses and provide them the learning content based on their choices.Chatbots using AI can also be used to teach students by converting a lecture into a series of messages to make it look like a conversation. The bot can evaluate the level of understanding of the student and deliver the next part of the lecture accordingly.

    For example, Botsify is a chatbot that works in the same way. It provides a specific topic to students in the form of images, videos, text or a combination of both. Once the students learn any topic, students have to take quizzes and submit their answers to the teacher. In this way, faculties can track the performances of students as well.

Digital Transformation in Teaching Methods

Educational institutes are looking at technology as an opportunity to build teaching methods and connect with students efficiently. Everyone nowadays owns smart devices, including smartphones, computers, laptops and tablets. Learning to transform teaching methods by using technology is a significant way to bring better learning experiences for students.

Let’s discuss some of the methods that can introduce digital transformation in education world.

  • Smart Class
    Whether it is an online classroom or physical classroom, the digital whiteboard can help you engage students effectively with interactive learning methods. While teaching via digital whiteboard, teachers are not restricted to only use one or two colors. Instead, they can use different colors shapes like circle, rectangle or star to explain complicated concepts more quickly and interactively.
  • AI-driven Online Assessments
    The evolution from the pen-and-paper approach to an online and automated platform acts as a cornerstone in the education sector. As colleges and schools are shut down, educational institutes have shifted to online teaching methods. However, the challenge for education providers is how to administer tests and assessments and determine learning outcomes.Artificial Intelligence has made it possible for educational institutes to conduct online examinations with the help of the internet and computer network. AI uses neural networks and deep learning algorithms to make machines learn from experiences to perform human-like activities.AI/ML-based assessment system is trained to process and analyze images of the examinee captured during the test with provided candidate information and flag discrepancies to prevent impersonation.

    AI-based online assessment system can also lock down the app where assessment is being taken, thereby restricting the navigation of students away from the assessment.

    It is possible to conduct different types of examinations, whether it is multiple choice questions, paragraph type questions, typing and coding simulators or video and audio input.

    With online assessment tools, you can roll out examination online in a hassle-free manner.

  • AI-based analysis of students
    Universities and schools nowadays have to face a lot of challenges, including high dropout rates, the ineffectiveness of a traditional “one-size-fits-all” approach and disengaged students. However, AI and big data analytics can help create personalized learning experiences and resolve these challenges.A personalized learning experience allows students to enjoy a unique educational approach that is completely tailored to individuals’ needs and abilities.It can enhance student’s productivity and reduce their chances of dropping out. With data analysis of students’ behavior using AI, professors can get a better understanding of each student’s learning ability that could allow them to teach more efficiently.
  • AI-enabled remote proctoring
    Remote proctoring is a technology that allows educational institutes to conduct online examination that prevents students from involving in any unfair means.You can enable online proctoring with a combination of integrated web camera and AI-powered facial recognition algorithm. It offers massive opportunities for online evaluations. It does not require manual invigilators to keep an eye on students during the examination.With AI-enabled online proctoring, you can record every single examination from beginning to end, not just via video; it can also capture the desktop screen, images and chat logs. It can also monitor the complete examination session, including non-standard occurrences, for example, a student leaning away from their webcam or leaving the room.

    AI-assisted facial recognition and tracking system allows a student to be tracked remotely and the contents of their computer.

    Therefore, online examination or assessment is no more a concern for educational institutes if they have an AI-enabled assessment system.

3. What needs to be considered while thinking about digital transformation in education sector?

1. Identify the Areas of the Institution to Go Digital

When you plan to go digital, you first need to identify where you need to implement technology into the educational workflow. Considering what should be transformed can help you proceed in the right direction in terms of digital transformation. For example, personalized learning experience, branding, online learning and classroom enhancement.

Based on what you require to transform your educational institute, it is crucial to determine areas of the institution to go digital with stakeholders.

2. Connect everything to support tomorrow’s digital world

Set up potential strategic partnerships and develop an ecosystem that connects your processes, people and things to build an interaction network that is smart and secure.

3. Deploy analytics to automate, understand and save money

Before you decide to go digital, it is also essential to use real-time and real-life data to plan strategic initiatives to roll out upgrades, enhance performance and make infrastructure decisions.

4. Roll out new business models

Digital transformation means rolling out new business models that can drive growth, revenue and improve branding. Ensure to identify new business models in the educational workflow that can bring transformation and enhance the overall experience for both students and education providers.

5. Move towards a single, simple platform

Digital transformation is about easing and enhancing your existing models, not complicating them. Therefore, it is always to move towards a single, simple and custom platform instead of relying on multiple software and tools to perform some action.

Conclusion

With the digitization of the learning experience, both students and teachers can enhance their skills to create an engaging educational process. From online learning to the smart classroom, analysis of students’ performance, personalized learning experience and online examination, you can transform your educational institute in many ways.

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION OF MAINTENANCE

The asset management industry is teetering on the brink of full digital transformation, as organizations look to software to help reduce costs, improve productivity and boost sustainability

Digitisation is sweeping through industries, transforming processes, turning business models on their heads, and enabling organisations to boost efficiencies and reduce costs dramatically.

Much of this digital transformation has already occurred in white-collar territory such as marketing, finance and human resources. However, traditional blue-collar industries are now staring down the barrel of modernisation, poised to make the leap from pen-and-paper systems to software solutions.

In the world of maintenance and asset management, the rise of cloud computing – the foundation and true enabler of digitisation – is democratising maintenance software, allowing companies that previously couldn’t access such transformative technology to deploy it at a manageable cost with a quick-and-easy set-up.

Digital transformation at the organisational level is a game-changer when it comes to improvements around quality, production and longevity of physical assets

“Digital transformation at the organisational level is a game-changer when it comes to improvements around quality, production and longevity of physical assets,” says James Novak, president and chief operating officer at Fiix, a cloud-based computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) software provider.

Fiix’s solution helps businesses organise their maintenance departments, ultimately leading to less unplanned downtime, higher productivity and better overall business performance.

“We’ve seen customers reduce maintenance costs by seven to nine times, simply by moving from reactive to preventive maintenance. You can’t do that if you’re organising maintenance on paper, pen and clipboards – you need software.”

Being able to plan maintenance proactively is an essential component of understanding the true cost of operations in any industry. If an organisation is able to anticipate maintenance and downtime, then it can budget time and resources accordingly. However, many organisations still undervalue and deprioritise maintenance, pigeonholing it as a cost-centre rather than a potential source of value.

This mentality can have dire consequences. “Issues like industrial accidents, waste, chemical spills and manufacturing scrap are so often due to poor maintenance. This is where we start to see a really interesting intersection between our work at Fiix and sustainability on a global level,” says Mr Novak.

“When we keep physical assets running in peak condition with proactive maintenance, we can mitigate the harmful effects of downtime and decrease overall environmental impact, similar to how maintaining an old car decreases its carbon emissions. If you multiply the effects of maintenance on individual assets and apply it to a whole factory, a whole industry or, in a perfect world, globally then you start to understand the real impact that maintenance can have.”

But despite the financial, operational and social boon of implementing an enterprise maintenance and asset management solution such as Fiix’s CMMS, many organisations still struggle to embrace digital transformation. Change management and internal resistance to technology are big concerns for asset managers already feeling the pinch of increased productivity demands, as well as time and budget constraints.

“What we’re starting to see is that a lot more companies understand why systems like ours are important, but struggle with the what and the how. This is where we partner with teams to work through change management exercises, to really make sure key stakeholders at every level of the organisation understand the value of the software and see how it can make their jobs easier,” says Mr Novak.

He points to increased accessibility to software solutions as well as drivers such as ageing assets and infrastructure as key factors spurring modernisation in the maintenance and asset management industry.

“The enterprise asset management market is exploding. At Fiix, we’re seeing consistently higher demand from companies that really get why now is the time for digital transformation in their maintenance departments and how technology can improve operations across the board,” Mr Novak concludes.

The impact of digital transformation in the finance industry

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Digital transformation (DT) in the finance industry is a concept which has now become part of a successful business strategy rather than just technology.

Digital transformation has made a positive impact on business operations in the finance industry. It has led to opportunities of faster, cost-effective operations, meeting regulatory deadlines, improved employee and customer experience and remaining competitive.

Consequently, it has now become a business strategy as opposed to a technology strategy. When you consider how far modern banking has come, you can understand how DT has grown to benefit everyone with greater convenience and experiences. From its humble origins of branch offices to ATMs and now mobile apps, the progress of banking has enabled digital technology to offer greater choice, convenience and experience.

2018 witnessed an evolution of digital transformation trends in financial services, some of which are highlighted below:

  • Organisational agility

    Refers to a company’s effective response to disruption, learned from the last economic crisis. Firms are looking at ways to improve and support innovation but through efficient means.

  • Increased collaboration

    An increasing number of industry-wide businesses adopt team structure as an operational model, emphasising the need to work collaboratively and communicate effectively. They must do this by working according to regulations and standards

  • Risk assessment

    Firms that place importance on large volumes of data pertaining to collection, storage and analysis are thereby improving their compliance management.

As digital technology and services revolutionise the financial industry, could this mean the end of traditional banking and financial products and services? We look at the impact of DT and explore the key changes taking place as well as the challenges.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI plays a pivotal role for financial institutions and credit card companies in identifying and predicting the possibility of fraud. The technology is becoming more practical in order to help the bank customer in making their life easier and safer.

However, there is another side to the benefits of AI for financial services; it can support firms in keeping in line with regulatory and compliance changes. Also, from a customer perspective, AI can reveal interesting observations and trends in customer behaviour.

Blockchain Technology & Cryptocurrencies

The emergence of digital currencies or cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, has enabled customers to take advantage of faster and cheaper ways to carry out transactions.

Blockchain, which enables the existence of cryptocurrencies, is viewed as technology with trust-building properties, minimising risk and human error – an ideal securities exchange trading platform. It is regarded as one of the most impressive innovations in financial services and logistic technologies that once widely adopted will transform the world.

Digital Banking Solutions

Previously, new customers were offered free gifts as an incentive when opening a bank account. We can say that still applies today, although this is now in an intangible form, in the way of an associated service, such as a mobile app offered with a bank or credit card, which, for example, allows customers to pay bills.

However, digital banking is not only restricted to online accounts. There are digital banks which operate online only with very few or no buildings or branches. Mobility has opened a whole new world with smartphones and increasingly sophisticated apps being introduced, culminating in the disappearance of many of the traditional buildings and branches.

Financial Technology (FinTech)

Financial technology, more commonly known as FinTech, refers to the use of modern technology adopted by banks and financial companies (as well as the systems themselves) to improve delivery of financial services. It has evolved from its early beginnings in the form of ATMs and credit cards to current technologies such as digital banks and blockchain technology.

The world of finance as we know it is changing thanks to FinTech through automated technology and machine learning algorithms. This is evident in new technologies such as customer service automated chatbots, online budgeting tools and spending tracking.

Disruptive Innovation

Here, we speak of an array of digital disruptors in FinTech – innovations which create new markets and disrupt existing ones. Recent innovations which we classify as digital disruptors include payment technologies such as PayPal and more recently, ApplePay, which is accelerating the disruption on payments, contributing significantly towards a digital transformation in financial services.

Specialised skills

As new technologies evolve, so does the recruitment of specialised skills. Traditional customer-facing roles require different skills – the validity and usefulness of these roles are now being threatened by innovative technologies. As a result, the industry is looking towards the acquisition of new skills in order to replace those becoming irrelevant through this transformation.

It cannot be denied that technology has made such a huge impact in our lives and financial services is no exception. Digital transformation has created innovative technologies at a rapid pace, and it continues to grow.

In order to stay ahead, traditional financial services organisations will have to adopt new business models in order to maintain customer loyalty and remain competitive. Success will depend upon the ability of companies to facilitate business automation and integrate technologies with existing ones.

To help Marketing professionals keep pace with regulatory requirements and avoid their own compliance breaches, we have published a Marketing Manager’s Guide to Compliance. It covers the FCA’s rules; the roles of the Compliance and Marketing teams; the reasons for financial promotions regulation and the common pitfalls to look out for.

Digital Transformation in Healthcare in 2020: 7 Key Trends

As a healthcare business, you probably know that keeping up with digital transformation in healthcare can feel overwhelming.

Deciding which emerging technologies are worth investing in and getting your team on board with change is often the hardest part. Plus, adapting to the digital era requires a shift towards a flexible and risk-taking mindset. It means letting go of outdated business processes and trusting that disruption will yield big results. Before we dive deeper into this topic, a quick recap.

Digital transformation in healthcare is the positive impact of technology in healthcare. Telemedicine, artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled medical devices, and blockchain electronic health records are just a few concrete examples of digital transformation in healthcare.

Innovation is the name of the game here, with the main goal of streamlining physicians’ work, optimizing systems, improving patient outcomes, reducing human error, and lowering costs through amazing web and mobile experiences.

Unfortunately, the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries have lagged behind when it comes to implementing digital strategies. In fact, in a recent survey, only seven percent of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies said they had gone digital, compared to 15 percent of companies in other industries.

Despite that, the U.S. healthcare market is enormous; with the national health spending projected to reach $5.7 trillion by 2026. There’s still time for you to get well-versed in digital technology and use it to bring in more business. But in order to transform your standard practice into a thriving, digital machine in 2020, you first need a comprehensive picture of the modern healthcare landscape.

Thanks to technology, patients get better treatment with virtual reality tools, wearable medical devices, telehealth, and 5G mobile technology. Doctors, on the other hand, can streamline their workflows using artificial intelligence-powered systems.

Here’s a better look at the state of digital transformation in healthcare in 2020:

1) The rise of on-demand healthcare (why patients want healthcare on their own schedule)

When you think of ‘on-demand,’ you think of consumers who want things at their own convenience, on their own time, and wherever they happen to be. The healthcare industry is entering the era of digital innovation, as patients seek on-demand healthcare because of their busy schedules. Mobile is especially important when considering content marketing.

People have simply become far more mobile in the past decade. Mobility is the name of the game, and recent statistics show that more than 50% of all web browsing in the world occurs on mobile devices as of 2018 (to be exact, 52%).

One of the first rules of content marketing is that you must identify where your targeted consumers gather and reach them on those platforms, i.e. mobile. That’s not surprising given that 77 percent of U.S. residents own a smartphone. On top of that, the number of mobile phone users in the world is expected to pass the five billion mark by 2019.

Factor in that more than four billion people globally are on the Internet and you can start to see the possibilities that digital transformation in healthcare offer.

Man wearing smart watch while operating corresponding mobile app.

According to DMN3, consumers are going online to obtain medical information for the following reasons:

  • 47% research doctors
  • 38% research hospital and medical facilities
  • 77% book medical appointments

But on-demand healthcare is also driven by the growth of the ‘gig’ economy, in which freelance professionals in various industries hire themselves out per job or ‘gig,’ instead of tethering themselves to one company.

Companies such as Nomad Health – an online marketplace that links doctors directly with medical facilities for short-term work – are making it easier for physicians to provide on-demand healthcare to clients in specific circumstances that match their talents, expertise, and schedule. In other words, doctors themselves become on-demand healthcare providers to better meet the changing needs of their patients, another benefit of digital transformation in the healthcare industry.

2) The importance of big data in healthcare

Big data aggregates information about a business through formats such as social media, ecommerce, online transactions, and financial transactions, and identifies patterns and trends for future use.

For the healthcare industry, big data can provide several important benefits, including:

  • Lower rate of medication errors – through patient record analysis, software can flag any inconsistencies between a patient’s health and drug prescriptions, alerting health professionals and patients when there is a potential risk of a medication error.
  • Facilitating Preventive Care – a high volume of people stepping into emergency rooms are recurring patients also called “frequent flyers.” They can account for up to 28% of visits. Big data analysis could identify these people and create preventive plans to keep them from returning.
  • More Accurate Staffing – big data’s predictive analysis could help hospitals and clinics estimate future admission rates, which helps these facilities allocate the proper staff to deal with patients. This saves money and reduces emergency room wait times when a facility is understaffed.

Flowchart of data from smart watch, mobile, and tablet going to cloud

With these benefits in mind, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies should invest in organizing their data. That requires an investment in analytics experts who can crunch the data to not only identify areas of weakness, but to also help companies better understand their market.

For example, if you’re in the pharmaceutical industry, you probably understand that marketing dynamics are constantly shifting. In fact, drugmakers believe that the biggest advantage of big data is how it helps them understand the market. And with that understanding, they can determine product iteration and product budgets based on existing and future demand.

With a better grasp of the market, your healthcare marketing and sales teams will have an easier time identifying your ideal consumer. And a big part of that is creating a customer persona, which compiles demographic information on what your prospects want and need, and the platforms where you can reach them.

3) Treating patients with virtual reality

Ten years ago, telling people you could reduce their pain with a device similar to a video game would have garnered a lot of blank stares. In 2018, however, Virtual Reality (VR) is the pièce de résistance of digital transformation in healthcare. Its myriad of applications are profoundly changing the way patients are being treated.

Take pain management for instance. Up until recently, doctors were handing out opioids prescriptions like candy. Migraines? Postoperative pain? Here’s some OxyContin, Vicodin, or Percocet. As a result, the country is currently facing the worst drug crisis in American history, representing an economic burden of $78.5 billion a year.

Here’s the thing: millions of people are still struggling with chronic pain. According to the CDC, 50 million of U.S. adults had chronic pain in 2016. For them, VR is a safer, more efficient alternative to drugs. VR technology is being used not only to treat pain, but everything from anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder, and stroke.

And that’s just a fraction of VR’s proven capabilities in the medical field. Other uses include, doctors and residents using virtual-reality simulations to hone their skills or to plan complicated surgeries. VR headsets could also motivate wearers to exercise and help children with autism learn how to navigate the world.

From startups to pharma giants, everyone is betting on VR and there are numbers to back them up. The global virtual and augmented reality in healthcare market is expected to reach $5.1 billion by 2025. If you’re a healthcare company planning your digital marketing strategy, you should highly consider investing this technology.

VR is a powerful communication channel that would allow you, among other things, to get a better sense of your customers’ needs and virtually engage them with your products or services.

4) The growth of wearable medical devices

Another trend of the digital transformation in healthcare is companies collecting their own health data from medical devices, including wearable technology.

In the past, most patients were satisfied with undergoing a physical once a year, and only checking in with their doctors when something went wrong. But in the digital age, patients are focusing on prevention and maintenance, and demanding information about their health more frequently.

As a result, healthcare companies are being proactive by investing in wearable technology devices that can provide up-to-date monitoring of high-risk patients to determine the likelihood of a major health event. According to a recent report, the wearable medical device market is expected to reach more than $27 million by 2023, a spectacular jump from almost $8 million in 2017.

Some of the most common of these devices include:

  • Heart rate sensors
  • Exercise trackers
  • Sweat meters – used for diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels.
  • Oximeters – monitors the amount of oxygen carried in the blood, and is often used by patients with respiratory illnesses such as COPD or asthma.

Apple smartwatch showing heartbeat rate on screen

Other benefits for healthcare companies who invest in these products:

  • Personalizes the healthcare experience – medical devices give patients a sense of ownership in the process of improving their health.
  • Targets insurance pricing – information obtained from wearable devices can help insurers more accurately rate a patient’s risk for illness.
  • Provides insurance incentives – patients who take preventive measures to improve their health can obtain lower insurance premiums.
  • Provides gamification opportunities – some medical devices such as fitness watches can create competitive goals for users to achieve through exercise, diet and nutrition.

Furthermore, wearable technology can also help healthcare companies save money. One study found that health apps and wearables for preventative care could save the U.S. healthcare system close to $7 billion per year.

5) Predictive healthcare

Earlier, we touched on how big data could provide healthcare companies with predictive analysis about admission rates and help them properly staff their facilities. But another factor supporting the digital transformation in healthcare is predicting what illnesses and diseases will become major problems in the near future.

Information aggregated through Big Data and other marketing sources can help healthcare companies develop healthy lifestyle recommendations for their patients.

For example, you could hire an analyst to analyze keyword activity across social media channels and on major search engines to determine the most common searches for medical conditions, illnesses, and general health. The analyst could then develop a predictive model that would anticipate where and when the next big health scare will occur, and how your company can prepare for that event.

But on a smaller scale, predictive analysis could help businesses of all sizes determine when to hire temporary staff due to impending outbreaks of colds and flu that could result in a worker shortage.

Infographic: Top Digital Transformation Trends in 2019

6) The wonders of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is more than just a digital transformation trend in healthcare. AI represents the epitome of medical innovation and industry players are eager to invest millions in it. The healthcare AI-powered tools market is expected to exceed $34 billion by 2025, which means this technology will shape almost all facets of the industry.

For most patients, AI in medicine brings to mind Japanese nurse robots. But now, there are plenty of American versions too, like Moxi, a friendly hospital droid designed to assist human nurses with routine tasks such as fetching and restocking supplies.

Chatbots and virtual health assistants are another AI-based technology that patients are becoming familiar with. Chatbots can fill a multitude of roles from customer service representatives to diagnostic tools and even therapists. Their versatility is being translated in heavy investments. The global healthcare chatbots market is projected to reach $314.3 million by 2023 from $122 million in 2018.

But the real power of AI can be best observed in areas like precision medicine, medical imaging, drug discovery, and genomics. For instance, cancer patients used to receive cookie-cutter treatments with high failure rates. Now, thanks to AI’s sophisticated pattern recognition, these patients have access to personalized therapies tailored to their genetic makeup and lifestyle.

What AI-powered computer programs do for oncology, in a nutshell, is analyze thousands of pathology images of various cancers to provide highly accurate diagnoses and predict the best possible anti-cancer drug combinations. And, in medical imaging diagnostics, this technology helps radiologists spot details that escape the human eye.

What’s more, top pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are using machine learning algorithms to shorten the drug development cycle. In fact, recent findings show that AI can slash early drug discovery timelines by four years against the industry average, and generate cost savings of 60 percent.

Overall, AI is predicted to bring $150 billion dollars in annual savings for the US healthcare economy by 2026. Startups are already jumping on this opportunity; the number of active AI startups has increased 14-fold since 2000.

These numbers alone should be enough to convince any CEO looking to usher their health organization into reaching digital maturity that AI is worth the investment.

7) Blockchain and the promise of better electronic health records

Blockchain has recently developed a bad reputation due to the burst of the cryptocurrency bubble. Now, the average person thinks of blockchain as of this vague, puzzling concept that doesn’t have much of an impact on their life. In reality, this technology will soon play an instrumental role in keeping their electronic health records accurate and safe.

Blockchain is a digital ledger or a computerized database of transactions. Shared across a network of computers, it allows customers to safely exchange financial information with suppliers, without the need of a third party such as a bank.

The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are already vouching for its efficiency by investing millions in this market. According to a recent report, blockchain in healthcare market is expected to reach $890.5 million by 2023.

Man looking at blockchain data.

In healthcare, blockchain is proven to be an effective tool in preventing data breaches, improving the accuracy of medical records, and cutting costs.

For years, health officials and experts have been trying to come up with doable solutions to the problem of fragmented medical records.

An electronic health record (EHR) is basically the digital version of a medical chart and includes everything from a patient’s medical history and diagnoses, to treatment plans, immunization dates, and test results. It also contains their home address, previous workplaces, as well as financial information like credit card numbers. This is what makes EHRs such an appealing target for hackers, who are selling them for up to $1,000 on the black market.

Yet, for as valuable as they are, hospitals are falling short in managing their EHRs. 

Medical data is currently being recorded in unstructured formats and stretched across multiple EHR systems. Already short-staffed doctors and nurses struggle to manually log in every piece of information. This leads to huge errors such as duplicate medical records, misdiagnoses, delayed treatments, and even deaths.

Some countries like Australia and UK have started to experiment with blockchain technology to manage medical records and transactions among patients, healthcare providers, and insurance companies. Thanks to a decentralised network of computers that handle the blockchain and simultaneously register every transaction, conflicting information is automatically detected. Records are not only 100% accurate, but also harder to hack.

In the U.S., regulations make it harder for companies to create blockchain-based EHRs. Some startups like Medicalchain, however, are making big strides towards a future where patients will control their EHRs from an app, where doctors, pharmacists, or health insurers will be requesting permission to access their data and where all transactions will be recorded on the distributed ledger.

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Health in the palm of your hand

The healthcare system is undergoing a seismic shift in how information is obtained and disseminated. Gone are the days when all medical information was under the lock and key of doctors and surgeons, and patients had to sign away their lives to access their own health information – consumers want to be able to access all aspects of their health record and do so from the palm of their hand.

Through tools such as online patient portals that provide medical test results, diagnosis, and explanations of illnesses, patients are now becoming participants in their well being.

And that allows doctors to analyze patients in real-time.

What does it really mean when your FitBit says you’ve completed 14,000 steps in a day? By itself, that is just information. It becomes valuable when doctors and medical analysts transform that this data into actionable knowledge about how those steps helped you burn a specific number of calories, and that increasing those steps will help you maintain your ideal weight. While digital technology is a valuable tool in healthcare, it’s important to remember that it is still just a tool that you can add in your repertoire.

5G mobile technology for instantaneous healthcare

Speaking of health in the palm of your health or in your pocket…As wireless technology gets more sophisticated, so does the delivery of medicine.

Introduced by Qualcomm, the world’s largest mobile chipset supplier, 5G enhanced Mobile BroadBand (eMBB) is considered to be the driver of the new mobile industry revolution.

The technology can run up to 100 times faster than the current cellular connection, which made industry experts confident that it will completely change the healthcare landscape and lead to savings of up to $650 billion by 2025.

Here’s how.

First, Qualcomm says 5G will make “buffering” a thing of the past, allowing for instantaneous streaming, downloading, and uploading. For telemedicine, this means patients will experience better video conference quality, regardless of location. More importantly, doctors will have access to accurate, real-time imaging of organs, soft tissue, and bones, which in turn will greatly decrease the risk of misdiagnosis.

With the current network bandwidth, it takes hours for doctors to send large imaging files to a specialist. Once health facilities will switch to 5G networks, the transmission process will take just a couple of minutes.

And that’s not even a fraction of how 5G could transform healthcare.

“5G is designed to pair with technologies like artificial intelligence and XR to enhance current services and applications, offering a different level of user experiences,” says Qualcomm.

Let’s take a look at some practical examples:

  • Clinicians could soon use ultra-reliable connections to teleport to virtual environments and perform robotic surgeries.
  • Augmented reality (AR) glasses would allow first responders to connect with faraway specialists and “show” them exactly what they are seeing, in order to receive better guidance.
  • 5G could also support medical training, enabling students to use virtual reality headsets to practice at their own pace the steps of complex surgeries.
  • 5G-enabled drones could deliver life-saving medicine or devices to patients in hard-to-reach rural areas. A university in Sweden is already testing these drones to deliver defibrillators to cardiac arrest victims.

But it is in the wearable medical device market where 5G will cause the greatest disruption. Remote monitoring technology has yet to reach its full potential due slow network speeds and unreliable connections. With 5G, clinicians will be able to instantaneously collect medical data such as a vitals or physical activity levels from disparate sources and large groups of patients and make fast, reliable diagnoses.

This is preventative care at its best: fewer people developing chronic conditions and less money spent caring for patients in hospitals or in emergency rooms. All in all, 5G is guaranteed to play a major role in healthcare this year and patients will be the first ones to feel the positive changes. The first 5G data cards were launched in 2019 along 5G smartphones which also hit the market last year.

The state of digital transformation in healthcare (both web and mobile) in 2020 looks quite promising, doesn’t it?

As with any business, the goal is to create products and services that improve lives or fulfill a want or need. Technology can help you realize this goal. Use this guide as a compass to navigate your way through the digital healthcare space and to build transformative experiences – with the client at the center of everything you do.

Digital Transformation and Trends in Real Estate

Digital innovations invade all the spheres of modern life at a giant pace and the speed is just gaining momentum. Business, education, industry and everyday life have been and are still being reshaped to match the new reality. Digital transformation in real estate is not so rapid, because the industry is based on hospitality and construction. However, real estate software solutions and technology integration into practices are already making their way into the sphere.

Some technologies are already referred to as «disruptive» by some experts, while the others say their real impact has yet to be seen. We prefer to call them digital trends and want to review them and their impact on the industry here.

1. Big Data and CRM

The real estate sphere is the sphere of big data. It comprises the real property objects, their characteristics, owners, companies, renters, agents, so real estate data analytics is inevitable for successful business development and revenue generation. Using CRM tools will help you in many ways here. It can, on the one hand, show you the potential customers, their activity and interests. On the other hand, it can be used for making predictions as to the market conditions, property buying or investment perspectives or price. Being a real estate business you cannot do anymore without custom real estate software solutions and CRM tools for a better staff, resources and customer management as well as better document administration and access anytime from anywhere.

2. Real Estate AI, Machine Learning and Predictive analytics

Artificial intelligence and predictive analytics are nowadays the competitive advantages of the real estate market players. Those who do not invest in analytics are unlikely to survive by 2021 already.

To succeed in business, one should analyze carefully his potential customers, regulators, business leaders and competitors, staff and lots of other essential details, like paperwork, taxes fees, etc. It’s crucial for understanding what data is at disposal, what can be done with it, what risks it poses, and how to manage it all properly. The information is too valuable, however, too abundant to collect it, process and turn into insights. One should either spend tons of time on it or use modern real estate predictive analytics tools to detect problems, prospects, and solutions. Even more crucial is to process data real-time. That’s where machine learning and AI in real estate come handy. They help to analyze and interpret the information collected as well as put it to good use.

Artificial intelligence can provide valuable insights as to the markets, property objects, and even ROI from the rent, reveal the potential cash flow and aid agents to match properties to the customers. AI and machine learning have in fact brought the technology of the sphere to the next level, being extremely good at data analysis through the real estate analytics tools, intuitive, easy to use, and reliable. In 2020 their speed and accuracy are expected to improve considerably, that’s why these are the trends worth investments nowadays.

3. A Shift to the Cloud

Cloud property management software solutions are becoming increasingly popular among evolving digital real estate trends. Such software allows quick and hassles access to the property information and financial data any time from any place. The property owners and tenants can just log in to the system and check whatever they want. There is no necessity to write emails or to make phone calls anymore. It creates an additional bonus of minimizing the amount of communication.

4. Blockchain

To discuss modern digital trends without mentioning Blockchain is nonsense and real estate is not an exclusion. In 2020, we can expect more properties sold via blockchain technology. The transactions made do not then require any middlemen or bank verification. Though the technology was overhyped in 2019, now real use cases for it can be seen beyond payments and digital currencies. Blockchain is going to be widely applied in real estate and asset management giving it the fresh start. At present, it can be thought of as an operating web-based real estate market with active business, benefiting from transparency and security. Financial scams and cyber-attacks have little chances with this innovative technology. It’s due to the fact that there is no single authority holding the record of the transactions exist.

5. Augmented Reality and the Industry

AR is another ground-breaking technology combining virtual reality and real-world content. The technology can be used, to see what a property would look or looks like through virtual tours, which will also help secure a property sale or rent.

There are already commercial real estate software products, which help scan buildings and watch the available spaces inside, getting all kinds of information on the property. Some of such applications are already able to go as far as to connect the clients with the agents directly. Though the apps of AR have not come into wide usage yet, many experts believe Augmented Reality will influence the future of the real estate industry. 2020 is a perfect start for this.

6. Smartphone Apps

Real estate application development is the aspect to consider for all agents or real estate business owners. Mobility is now the key to success and a great advantage in the increasingly changing and competitive environment. Most CRM and real estate software products development processes come with mobile apps already, however, it is predicted to become even more popular and practical next 2020 year. It can allow agents access property details, as well as the necessary documents and tools any time even on the go and get any information required right at the palm.

Conclusion

Though property buying selling or renting is going to stay a physical affair forever, the future of real estate transactions is digital and mobile. To gain an advantage over the competitors, one being in business should become an early adopter of the innovative technology trends.

Retail – transformation in the retail industry

If you need convincing that digital transformation is real, it suffices to take a look at the evolutions in the retail industry. Especially since the ‘retail apocalypse’ started about a decade ago, the need to digitize and digitalize, save costs and automate ranked high on the agenda of retail companies.

These cost savings and automation efforts, as we often see in a digital transformation strategy that follows a staged journey, among others, needed to enhance the shopping experience and enable retailers to reinvent themselves. Innovation, changes in business models, ecosystem approaches, the adoption of new technologies, a focus on brand purpose and value, different ways to engage with consumers; they’re all part of this ongoing exercise.

The importance of a clear focus on people (beyond the omnichannel experience of shoppers and staff safety), purpose, and performance in retail has increased as the shift to platform models accelerates and necessitates a data-driven retail model on all levels of the business.

Among the many challenges we saw eroding margins, the growth of e-commerce, declining visits to malls, the success of low-cost retailers, changing consumer behavior/needs, the list is endless. As if that wasn’t enough, the crisis caused by COVID-19, which came after this article was originally posted, is still in full development. For thoughts and findings on the additional challenges which will be essential in the coming years in the context of that crisis, you might want to check our article on the acceleration of data-driven retail in a holistic sense.

While many once-leading retailers have disappeared and more brands are in peril, often already since before the pandemic, others manage to survive, and some even continued to thrive.

Digital transformation in the retail industry

In this overview, we look at some significant evolutions that have been happening for several years in the retailing business. We also point you to additional articles on the digital transformation of retail, what sets winning retailers apart, the technologies being increasingly leveraged in retail, and – last but not least – the changing face and role of stores and retail facilities in a fast-changing world where the consumer is way more than the king. To quote Gerry McGovern from an older interview: “The customer isn’t king anymore; the customer is a dictator.” Retailers know.

Retailers have been experimenting with myriad of ways to respond to new shopper expectations, bridge digital and physical shopping experiences and try literally dozens of ways to transform the retail experience, handle back-office processes better and much more.

Several chains have opened concept stores to see how consumers are interacting with specific technologies and services before rolling them out to more stores. It’s safe to say that the retail industry is among the industries that are most affected by digital business transformation for several reasons as they shift towards more service-oriented models, with many traditional functions, processes and operations being automated.

Drivers of digital transformation in the retail industry

Among the key drivers of digital transformation in retail are:

  • The evolving expectations from the so-called digital or omni-channel shopper who really doesn’t care about channels as much as we do.
  • The need to blur digital and physical experiences with in-store experiences as a crucial element and the de facto disappearance of the borders between digital and physical already existing in the mind of the consumer and further enabled by the Internet of Things and the immersive experiences in virtual and augmented reality.
  • Challenges on the level of the supply chain which is really crucial and all too often far from digitized enough. Speed, time and a transparent view are key.
  • Competition from digital and overall customer experience champions and increasing cost pressure. Fortunately, thanks to new digital possibilities, there are ample ways to decrease costs, among others on the level of digitization and supply chain.
  • The impact and opportunities in areas such as data-driven optimization and marketing, empowerment of staff and new technologies.
  • An appetite from shoppers to have a personalized experience, which is pretty hard to achieve as it depends on the context and can range from the need to find and buy things fast to the exact opposite: have a relaxed and immersive shopping experience with digital technologies available all over the place and used for anything from smart displays to even music and ambiance.
  • The uncertainties brought upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic which are seriously impacting the retail industry. One thing, however, is already clear: transformation and several data-driven and IoT-enabled retail solutions (essentially anything enabling to leverage data to optimize the business, make shoppers feel safe, protect workers, save/manage costs, and even potentially decide on which retail stores to close) play a major role here.

By 2023, the 50% of retailers that have linked self-service technology strategy to digital transformation will see a 35% increase in net margin, 10% increase in customer loyalty, and 5% decrease in staff turnover (IDC)

Retail and the consequences of changing consumer behavior

However, as often the digital transformation needs mainly come from a changed behavior – here in people’s capacities as shoppers. We tend to call them ‘digital consumers‘ although that’s not correct.

Today’s shopper is not digital, he still overwhelmingly likes to shop in a store. Knowing that 90 percent of all retail sales transactions occur within the store, why would we then care about the digital behavior of that so-called digital consumer?

90 percent of pre-purchasing research happens online and 90 percent of people use their smartphones in stores while they shop.

Because the ‘digital consumer’ essentially is a consumer who displays changing BEHAVIOR, regardless of the tools or channels or experiences they use and seek.

Drivers and evolutions regarding changing shopping and retail behavior

A channel-agnostic shopping journey.

The use of digital tools and channels across each possible stage of the shopping journey.

This has a consequence on typical pre-shopping tasks (seeking products or shops, comparing, reading reviews,…), the actual shopping transaction (in-store, via digital platforms,….) and post-shopping (word-of-mouth, reviews, customer service, future purchases,…).

Seamless – and immersive – experiences.

The expectations of a seamless customer and shopping experience across multiple touchpoints and channels, whereby the consumer displays so-called omni-channel behavior and seeks experiences that are as easy, fast and frictionless – but sometimes immersive – as offered by the best-in-class retailers and other companies.

Innovation as a new expectation.

The growing demands of consumers for innovative shopping possibilities and experiences that stretch beyond excellence but are unique and satisfy the need that many consumers clearly have for innovative brand and shopping experiences BEYOND excellent customer experience.

Rapid access to information.

The information and service expectations shoppers have from store staff. The need for information about products and shops are obvious in a digital context. However, your shopper also wants fast information in an in-store context and that has an impact on your staff and on the need to empower it with the proper tools and resources.

People and knowledge matter - sales associates with a deep knowledge of the product range are most wanted by consumers - Total Retail Survey 2016 report PwC
People and knowledge matter – sales associates with a deep knowledge of the product range are most wanted by consumers – Total Retail Survey 2016 report PwC

Self-service.

Shoppers are getting used to self-service, self-checkout and finding information and support themselves.

It is expected that by 2017 half of all transactions will happen via mobile POS or self-checkout. The challenge is that not everyone is as keen about self-anything and in many cases a personal contact is prefered, for instance in an urgent service context or when seeking information about products. Refering to the previous point on information, there is a case to not just empower your store’s staff but also to move information self-service tools to touchpoints where they create most value,  enabling shoppers to inform themselves easily. Such information resources typically contain information on product features, whether products are in stock (and if not, where or when they are, information on rebates etc.).

Mobility.

Retail customers use digital tools in several stages of the shopping journey, even if 90 percent of in-store transactions happens online.

Millennials today are the largest consumer group and account for an expected $1.4 trillion in spending power. They use omni-channel shopping tools, look up product information before visiting a store or buy online, want convenience and personalized experiences, and prefer socially-conscious brands (Marine Petry)

A significant part of these tasks are performed using a mobile device and on the go. Moreover, when in your store, a significant percentage of shoppers gets out their smartphones to perform various tasks whereby the lines between digital and physical dissapear thanks to consumers’ “mobile ability“.

Digital ubiquity and personalized contextual relevance in retail

Let’s take a step back and look at the impact of this changing behavior from a broader and customer-centric perspective in two areas.

Digital without limits and limitations

A first picture that emerges is one of digital ubiquity, also in the in-store context.

Some facts that make this more tangible:

  • At one or the other point in the shopping process, people use the Internet, regardless of devices. 90 percent of pre-purchasing research for instance happens online and 1 in 3 consumers start their shopping journey on a retailer’s website, again regardless of devices.
  • A whopping 90 percent of people use their smartphones in stores while they shop. 54 percent performs price comparisons while in your store, 48 percent looks up product information and 2 percent checks reviews online. You can find more similar data in the infographic from BT (a partner), embedded below.
Digital retail today merges online capabilities
Digital retail today merges online capabilities – source

Personalized in-store, digital and omnichannel relevance

A second picture that emerges is one of personalized contextual relevance.

Consumers want more engaging and personalized in-store experiences.

Buyers have more ways to inform themselves, buy, seek service and perform any task in the retail journey than before. That much is clear. If a retailer wants to succeed it’s not just about delivering upon the earlier mentioned expectations.

Each shopper is different. Each shopping journey is different. Last but not least, all the psychological, situational, intentional and contextual factors are different.

You don’t know how a shopper will start his retail buying journey. Is he looking for a product that matches his needs by typing in a search query in Google to find products responding to his needs? Does he know where he can find the product he’s seeking for? Is he extremely informed and just wants to find the fastest and/or  cheapest and/or more convenient route to getting what he wants?

The same questions regarding the individual shopper intent and preferences arise in other retail contexts. Personalization is a goal all retailers should try to achieve. Beware though, personalization shouldn’t be a fancy name for harassing people with more messages in a marketing context.

It first and foremost is a matter of enabling shoppers to reach their goals, regardless of the shopping stage they’re in and of making each step in the retail journey as easy, convincing and effective as possible.

The physical store is still vital to retail - watch the full infographic on SlideShare
The physical store is still vital to retail – watch the full infographic on SlideShare

Digital transformation in the retail industry: technologies

Research by OVUM (PDF opens) indicated that managing customer engagement is the biggest challenge for retailers and shows how technology is changing the way we shop.

When asked about how technology will change the shopping experience by 2020, a range of technologies is mentioned, from smart fitting rooms, low-energy Bluetooth devices enabling multiple goals in areas such as payments, floor space management and interactive signage to RFID deployed at item level, ‘whole trolley/basket’ checkout and financial services for known customers. It’s clear that IoT in retail will play a key role, also in the context of that hyper-personalization.

Technologies changing the shopping experience - OVUM - source PDF
Technologies changing the shopping experience – OVUM – source (PDF opens)

Here is one conclusion from the report: “retail is one of the most rapidly changing verticals across the world and is often at the forefront of technological advancement to keep pace with the evolving needs of a 24/7 customer base”. We can add ‘hungry for innovative experiences’ to that customer base. How hungry exactly and which innovative experiences are appreciated most is being learned in innovation centers and real-world test and concept stores across the globe.

They often occur in collaboration partnerships between IT service providers and retailers. It is said that the digital transformation economy almost by definition is one of partnerships. It is more than ever about collaboration with partners who test new technologies and experiences in retail.

Obviously we can’t forget the crucial role of big data. Data is the new oil in retail (too) and is key in many areas as depicted below in the image from an infographic by ADITI, uploaded by Harman Services.

Data is the new oil in retail - infographic by ADITI - full infographic
Data is the new oil in retail – infographic by ADITI – full infographic

It also mentions the critical role of the cloud and gives some good examples of retailers and how they navigate(d) digital transformation. Obviously we see all pillars of the third platform (big data/analytics, social, mobile and cloud) playing a big role in retail as are new technologies added upon that layer such as the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence or cognitive if you like.

Research, data and findings regarding the state of digital transformation in retail

A broad range of research by independent companies, consultancies and vendors confirms most of the mentioned evolutions.

In its Total Retail Survey 2016 report, PwC among others found that:

  • The global retail landscape is changing rapidly, mainly e-commerce with the likes of Amazon growing fast as you know and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers seeing serious drops in revenues, caused by digital disruption, defined as the speed of adoption of new technologies, as John Maxwell puts it in in the video you can see on the page of the report and which we used for this small list of findings.
  • Convenience is important but price is still king. Clear. Both matter a lot but with the role of price costs are a challenge. What if convenience and price could be optimized with digital transformation? Guess what: they can.
  • The in-store customer experience matters even more than in the past, with consumers wanting more engaging and personalized experiences. With store traffic down, the emphasis is on conversion.
  • Knowledge is essential: 40 percent of respondents say that sales associates with deep knowledge of the product range are important for them (and you can add knowledge of other retail-related information such as inventory status).
  • Social media and peer opinions have a key influence on buying decisions and perceptions of brand authenticity with 45 percent of respondents saying that reading opinions and comments influence their shopping behaviors (and they are willing to share opinions themselves).
  • Mobile commerce is big and mobile shopping is becoming the shopping tool of choice. Mobile shopping increased 8 percent last year and 34 percent of respondents agree that their mobile phone will become their main purchase tool.

More in the mentioned video. On the same page you’ll find 4 more videos that, respectively, zoom in on mobile shopping, social media, millennials and our personal favorite: the in-store experience.

Retailers can grab the leading innovator mantle says PwC's 2016 Total Retail Survey - source
Retailers can grab the leading innovator mantle says PwC’s 2016 Total Retail Survey – source

In regards with the latter it’s interesting to see what makes consumers see their favorite retailers as a leading innovator: store experience, store layout, in-store technology, delivery options and sustainability all play a role on top of more traditional aspects many would expect such as loyalty programs.

The room to innovate is there as is the reality of digital transformation.

More articles on the evolutions and transformations in the retail industry:

  • Retail innovation and transformation – what winning retailers do better
  • The acceleration of data-driven retail on the road to recovery
  • Retail facilities: an integrated retail facility management approach
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) in the retail industry – evolutions and use cases
  • Retail Systems Research: IoT in retail – between belief and barriers

Infographic: the modern retailer: from transition and transformation to innovation.

Infographic- The roadmap to modern retail: transition, transformation and innovation - source
Infographic- The roadmap to modern retail: transition, transformation and innovation – source

Digital transformation in transportation and logistics

In an increasingly real-time economy speed and timing are key. It might sound obvious but the consequences for supply chains, logistics and the transportation industry are huge.

Efficiency, optimization, speed and timing have always been crucial in logistics and transportation. Today, amidst a range of accelerating evolutions and in an increasingly digital environment where digital transformations are affecting the next revolution of industry, known as Industry 4.0, it is even more so.

In this overview we take a look at the main challenges regarding digitization and digital transformation in (goods) transportation and logistics (T&L) and, inevitably, the digital supply chain.

Digital transformation in transportation and logistics

Speed and timing as a competitive advantage in an increasingly real-time economy

First, let’s briefly look at the importance of speed and timing in general as they are essential everywhere. Feel free to skip this part and go to the topics you’re most interested in, using the table of contents above.

We’ve tackled how speed often is a key differentiator in today’s ‘digital business‘ context before. When used well, speed is a competitive advantage. We also mentioned how real-time economy evolutions affect organizations in another article.

Over 70 percent of executives are in high or very high agreement that the shift towards a real-time economy affects their organizational structure.

Research shows how 76.9 percent of executives agree or highly agree that the evolutions towards a real-time economy has an impact on their business processes. And, obviously, in transportation and logistics (and supply chains), processes are ubiquitous and hyper-connected. A majority of executives also feels that the move to a real-time economy affects their organizational structure and business strategy.

This shouldn’t be that surprising and we’re pretty sure that if today the same research would be conducted (it dates from end 2013), the results would even be higher.

The human and connected drivers of faster business

Among the many drivers are obviously consumers, users, in other words people, who are expecting more and are increasingly mobile. This goes for all industries and in transportation and logistics, customer experience and engagement rank high in the top priorities as well.

Several evolutions, including mobility, enabled a shift in behavior which is further enhanced by the experiences customer are used to in other contexts than the interactions and transactions with your business.

T&L CEOs see mobile technologies for engaging with customers, cybersecurity tools and data analytics as the three most important areas in which to invest. Source:PwC

It’s the famous ‘spill-over effect’. At the edge of each supply chain sits an end customer just as, at the edge of each process sits a user, a logistics partner or any other stakeholder. The focus on the customer or as Forrester calls it, the customer-obsessed operating model, is felt everywhere.

Just think, for instance, how in the context of a customer-adaptive enterprise the big data focus has moved towards fast data. Or how we move towards the edge in data analysis (edge computing and fog computing) in a context of the Internet of Things (IoT). Or how capturing and processing information fast is essential (without forgetting the accuracy). Real-time economy might be a bit of a misnomer as real-time first describes a capacity. Though we also increasingly see it as a reality.

Hyper-connectivity inherently comes with a dimension of acceleration and speed. The connectivity of processes, people and how it is used.

Speed and timing as challenges in logistics and beyond

So, customer expectations and competitive differentiation require speed and timing, which are drivers of several important changes in transportation and logistics, with speed being a competitive advantage.

We mentioned a few examples of when and where speed and timing are crucial in logistics and beyond. Here are a few examples of other areas where they are real game changers.

  • Data-driven marketing aims to engage people at the time and in the context which makes most sense and – thus – increases conversions/actions.
  • Information management, more than ever, is about living up to the credo of the right information at the right time for the right process(es), people, context, purposes and so on.
  • Customer service: the demand for fast responses is higher than ever and here as well it is a lot about information and communication (at the right time, etc.) but also because of these increased customer expectations regarding speedy (and accurate) answers in a mobile world.
  • The roll-out of new business models or technology deployments, taking decisions and/or product launches: you don’t want to be too soon nor too late.

In the end many of these examples are essential reasons why, as businesses, we’re so fond of big data and in this context certainly fast data and data analytics, delivered by unleashing artificial intelligence and cognitive computing on sets of data which we need to time so many things right and even in a predictive way as we do with predictive analytics.

Businesses don’t want data. They want visibility and dashboards to be fast and timely as they know it’s key in today’s digital transformation economy and realize it won’t change anytime soon, well on the contrary. And it is no different in logistics, transportation and supply chains.

Hyper-connectedness in transport and logistics

Whereas most of the previously mentioned examples have to do with information and communication there obviously also is the physical world of pallets, boxes, goods, paper documents, the books you just ordered online, the list goes on.

This brings us to the transportation and logistics industry where information management, data, analytics, visibility and king customer all play a key role.

After all, with each handling, shipping and any other treatment of goods come processes, information flows and interactions. With the lines between digital and physical blurring, few industries are so hyper-connected on all levels than those who are active in supply chains.

In the end, transport and logistics has one major task: making sure that any of the mentioned and other items arrive at the right time and place in the best possible condition.

Over a quarter of transportation and logistics companies have no digital strategy in place.

Whether it concerns distributors, end customers, transportation firms, retailers or any part of a supply chain: there is always someone waiting for something.

As in lots of real-life scenarios in a connected and globalized world, there are many parties involved to get an item from where it is manufactured to its end destination. The longer the waiting times for these parties, the longer it takes overall and the more time, resources, money and sometimes reputation can be wasted when a provider is too late and others need to wait. Obviously these delays don’t necessarily have an impact on the end destination. There is still something called warehousing and stock management and supply chain management is far more complex than depicted here. Just imagine all the processes that one party in the supply chain needs to complete (from the reception of an item to shipping it out in its original shape and form or as part of another item at the end of a manufacturing process).

The 7Rs of business logistics accelerated

The picture is clear. In a day and age where customers want speed and have increased expectations, the transport and logistics industry is challenged by just-in-time and near-real-time expectations.

This is not just because of the end customer or various intermediaries, it’s also because of costs, regulatory requirements and increasing competition, to name a few.

No wonder that disruptive companies such as Amazon and also newcomers focus on speed and often aim to take more control of parts of the supply chain or simply cut intermediaries where they can.

Obviously this aspect of speed and time isn’t new for the logistics and transportation industry. After all, the 7Rs of business logistics go back a long time: the right product/item in the right quantity to the right customer in the right condition at the right place, right time and right cost, right?

7 Rs of logistics – and how business logistics is interwoven with data
7 Rs of logistics – and how business logistics is interwoven with data

In today’s digital business reality most good old rules of logistics and supply chain management still are valid but the stakes are higher than ever. And it just moves faster and is far more integrated with interconnected processes and obviously data from several sources.

In fact, if you look at those 7 Rs of business logistics you immediately see how the right data at the right time, place etc. plays a key role. And we’re talking data from sensors (condition, place,…) as well as data and information in many other areas too here, including insights based upon data analytics or digitized information across the supply chain.

Digital supply chains and digitization/transformation

Digital business requires digital supply chains. Digitization (document to process) is a must and also changing the game (even if there is still a lot to do).

  • Profound digital transformation is occurring in several areas and challenge the status quo.
  • Innovative uses of technologies in areas such as data analytics, the Internet of Things and the cloud are disrupting existing players.
  • Various parties in the supply chain move at different speeds and changing expectations and evolutions in the digital transformation economy (or fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0 or whichever term you prefer) simply make digitalization a necessity across the logistics, transport and manufacturing industries where digital and always-on supply chains are becoming the new norm. More about that in our article on Logistics 4.0.

Although transportation and logistics management is a really broad area (even if we leave transportation people and animals out of the equation and mainly focus on goods here), there are several evolutions which apply to the sector as a whole and de facto lead to digitation and digital transformation as key catalysts and consequences with several digital technologies to make it all possible.

Data and information at the core: digital technologies in transportation and logistics

The technologies are different, depending on the exact ‘activity’ (packaging is not the same as actual transportation or border procedure management, to name a few) but they all have one element in common: the focus is mainly on data and information.

Approximately 20 percent of digital transformation costs will be allocated directly to supply chain transformation.

Data and analytics are key to speed up processes, offer visibility to partners and customers, digitize value chains and, in a context of digital transformation, come up with new business models. In many sub segments of transportation and logistics, it’ about disrupting or being disrupted with data and information at the core.

This immediately makes it clear which are the several digital technologies that play a role in the industry. Most of them revolve around location, connection of devices (Internet of Things), big data analytics, cognitive computing and obviously the platforms where data are captured, processed and leveraged/accessed such as mobile platforms, information capture and processing platforms but also the networks and data environments such as the cloud.

Last but not least, as we are talking about business assets, both the goods and the data, security (digital and physical) is also high on the agenda with an increasing use of technologies in the space of authentication, biometrics and asset tracking, one of the main applications in the Internet of Things.

Why and how digital transformation (and digitization) matter in logistics and transportation

Below are several reasons why the transportation and logistics sector needs to – and is – digitally transforming and still has several digitization challenges of well.

First things first: digital business transformation is happening in supply chains.

When opening the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2015, Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard stated that, we quote, “in leading organizations, one quarter of enterprise costs will be devoted to the digital transformation.” Of these investments approximately 20 percent will be allocated directly to supply chain transformation, Sondergaard added.

Below are several challenges to tackle and evolutions affecting the T&L industry (on top of the previously mentioned customer expectations which are key in all industries).

Framework for digital transformation of supply chain management by Capgemini Consulting - larger picture and analysis in PDF
Framework for digital transformation of supply chain management by Capgemini Consulting

The pressure on margins requires digitization, automation and a focus on new models

Cost reduction and growing profitability is essential. The margins in transportation and logistics are under pressure. This isn’t new but it remains a problem.

If we look at the period between 2005 and 2012, we see that, according to Olivier Wyman there was an average growth of 7 percent per year (revenues) but profitability (EBIT margin) declined from 6.8 percent to 4. percent in that same period.

New business models, enabled by digital technologies and focusing on the creation of solutions and value-added services, on top of cost reduction, are driving digital transformations.

The essential function of the supply chain: enhancing security to minimize risks and interruption

Business interruption, including supply chain disruption, is perceived as the number one global business risk.

It’s clear that supply chains are crucial for all businesses and the global economy as such. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that making sure it is not interrupted ranks high on the agenda.

As the Allianz Risk Barometer 2016, which we covered previously, indicates, Industry 4.0 is not just seen as an opportunity but also as a challenge, especially from the security perspective. As everything gets interconnected, so does risk. Or as Hugh Burgess, Global Head of Mid-Corporate and Head of Corporate Lines North America, AGCS, put it in the report: ” interconnectivity of risk is growing day-by-day, as technology, globalization and social change create a  complex web of relationships and interdependencies with “just-in–time” and “lean” manufacturing now standard practices.”

It’s obvious that cybersecurity and security in general are key in supply chains and several technologies are being increasingly adopted to minimize risks and pro-actively turn Industry 4.0 challenges into opportunities.

Tackling the challenges of hybrid supply chains

According to Capgemini Consulting most organizations today still operate on hybrid supply chain models. In other words: paper-based and IT-supported processes are combined.

Paper is a huge challenge in the optimization of supply chains because it is simply too slow and, as Capgemini reminds, only available locally. Moreover, certainly in a context of complex supply chains with a lot of intermediaries and processes, documents get lost, damaged or corrupted in several ways.

It comes with risks (including fraud), a lack of visibility (what we need in supply chains today) and inefficient processes and suboptimal resource allocation to name a few. Digitization is still a big challenge in transportation and logistics and there is ample room to optimize processes and capture information close to the source or point of ‘action/origination’ to speed up processes and enhance transparency while increasing agility (remember the need for speed). Moving from hybrid supply chains to digital supply chains is one of the key evolutions in T&L.

Taking the next steps regarding data maturity

The transportation and logistics industry is information-intensive and always has been data-driven.

However, the big data and data-driven traditions are not a guarantee for a successful leverage of the new data realities. T&L companies need to move up the data maturity level in order to turn possibilities in the sphere of the Internet of Things and cognitive computing into benefits that enable them to transform their businesses faster than is the case today. The focus shifts from the data to the outcomes and transformations.

According to 2016 transportation and logistics research by PwC “only 10 percent of transportation and logistics companies rate the maturity of their data analytics capabilities as advanced”. This is less than in other sector, PwC states (source: “Industry 4.0: Building the Digital Enterprise – Transportation and logistics key findings”).

The Internet of Things and Everything in transportation and logistics

With big data (analytics) we inevitable need to talk about the Internet of Things. It is clear there are many things in T&L and supply chain efficiency and data opportunities, as well as visibility and new approaches, can all be accelerated by leveraging IoT applications.

There are ample examples of how the Internet of Things is revolutionizing the logistics and transportation space.

While it’s important to take a look at the future developments and latest trends (from connected and even ‘autonomous’ trucks to warehouse robotics and smart warehouse solutions overall, to name a few), reality is of course that the Internet of Things has been around in logistics, transport, supply chains, warehousing etc. since quite some time.

Let’s not forget that the Internet of Things and its roots in RFID in more than one sense started in logistics, warehouses and the supply chain in general. The Industrial Internet of Things is a key component of the ‘connected logistics market’ as you can read here.

Asset management is one of many applications where RFID and the IoT have been present since quite some time as part of end-to-end inventory and asset management solutions. The combination of sensors, connected devices, big data (analytics) and mobile/cloud/connectivity technologies is adding additional possibilities to asset tracking and management. As an example, on top of simply tracking your inventory, palettes, crates, shipments and fleet, information can be gathered regarding the state of any connected item, including vehicles, to take decisions in areas such as maintenance.

The list of potential IoT applications in T&L and supply chains is long and implications are huge.

Or as Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard said in the previously mentioned article on how digital business means big change for supply chains, “the focus is on how the supply chain can consume and leverage data, integrate sensors and other elements of the Internet of Things (IoT) and software for customer segmentation and marketing automation”.

Closing the gaps regarding information maturity and digital capabilities

This overview of challenges and drivers is not exhaustive. There are several other evolutions and challenges, certainly when we look deeper into various aspects of the broad field that T&L is.

Improving connectivity across the full chain, the possibility to better predict and forecast, several regulatory challenges, newer technologies such as drones and 3D printing, changes in logistics patterns and scenarios as depicted in the graphic from PwC below, challenges regarding resources (people, management but also energy, for example), integration of value chains, the list is long.

Logistics scenarios from PwC - source The future of the logistics industry
Logistics scenarios from PwC – source The future of the logistics industry

However, before looking at what the future holds (and what is already happening in several companies) it’s key to get the house in order.

And that’s not just about digital technologies as challenges, ‘protectors’ (security), enablers and accelerators, based upon mobile, cloud, big data and the Internet of Things.

It’s also about culture and dealing with the essential challenges with regards to be fully digitally ready. If you look at the many digitization challenges, from paper-based proof of delivery (POD) documents to a lack of visibility, you know there is still a lot to do.

As the Digital Pulse Survey from Russell Reynolds Associates found, over a quarter of T&L companies still doesn’t have a digital strategy in place.

Moreover, 80 percent report that the CEO does not recognize the potential for digital while in 80 percent of companies digital business implementation is also hindered by departments who are competing for the ownership of digital, not exactly what we like to see.

As newcomers enter the market, T&L companies have an opportunity to offer new services and even new types of business themselves. It works in two ways and several players already started moving beyond their core business. The time to connect the dots and leverage hyper-connectivity, moving away from silos to data maturity and digital strategies which encompass the whole business is now.

Digital capabilities and information excellence are key to close existing gaps and transform for better customer engagement, new business models and the challenges facing the industry.