When examining digital transformation across various industries, we should start by looking at digital technology itself.
That is, what role does digital technology play in an industry?
Digital technology certainly impacts every industry, both large and small.
But some are impacted more than others.
And technology performs different functions in different industries – as well as within different job functions.
Digital Transformation Across Various Industries: Points of Focus
Here are a few dimensions to examine when exploring digital transformation by industry:
- The type of technologies currently used in the industry. Manufacturing or healthcare, for example, rely heavily on specialized hardware. Software, however, can be developed entirely on affordable, mass-produced computers.
- How those technologies are applied in the industry. Some industries rely very heavily on technology – such as software development, finance, graphic design, and so on. Others, such as agriculture or retail, may use technology only for functions such as inventory and accounting.
- How future technological advances will affect the industry. How will today’s up-and-coming advances impact a given industry? AI, IoT, and blockchain will affect every business to a certain extent. And other advances will apply only to specific industries.
- Regulatory issues, compliance issues, legal issues, and other external factors. Healthcare and finance, for example, have extensive requirements when it comes to security, privacy, and legal compliance. These add time and complexity to digital transformation efforts.
These issues can help determine the scale, impact, and timeline of digital transformation for a particular industry.
For example, AI Superpowers, by AI expert Kai-Fu Lee, claims that automation will affect knowledge workers faster than manual labor jobs.
The reason is simple: digital technology can be distributed immediately, at no cost.
Precision machinery, however, is more difficult to develop and takes time to produce, distribute, and implement.
4 Cross-Industry Digital Transformation Trends
Accenture partnered up with the World Economic Forum to explore the impact of digital transformation across a spread of industries.
Their report on consumer industries offers some excellent insight into consumer industries.
Here are the digital transformation themes they identified for consumer-facing sectors:
- Experiences themselves will become the backbone for business models and delivery
- Retail will be transformed into an omni-channel pipeline, requiring the adoption of new digital strategies
- Smart supply chains and smart factories will enable new levels of personalization, such as the mass customization of products
- Consumer data flow is increasing, which will help companies innovate and create better customer experiences.
These digital transformation trends, claim the report’s authors, are expected to “put a cumulative $4.9 trillion of value at stake” in terms of operating profits.
A Breakdown by Industry
Accenture’s partnership with the World Economic Forum is called the Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI).
This initiative began by examining six major industries.
Here are those industries, along with some highlights of what they found:
- Automotive – Self-driving cars, the connected traveler, and a digitized ecosystems will help to create massive value in the automotive sector. The value created in this sector will extend into society, through reduced crash costs, lower insurance premiums, and fewer road casualties, for instance.
- Consumer – Consumer industries will undergo the four transformations mentioned in the previous section. The largest, they expect, will be omni-channel retail. The report’s authors expect $5 trillion in “societal impact” through cost savings and productivity improvements.
- Electricity – Asset performance management, energy solutions integration, energy storage integration, and real-time network clouds are expected to be the big trends in this industry. Societal benefits in this industry include reduced carbon emissions, net job creation, and value creation to customers.
- Logistics – Crowdsourcing is expected to have the largest impact on the logistics industry, allowing smaller players to enter the industry. At the same time, digital technology will help them cut costs and provide an uplift to their bottom lines. Such improvements are also expected to reduce carbon emissions substantially over the next several years.
- Media – Personalization and contextualization, content fragmentation, and partnerships and industrialization are expected to underpin digital transformation for media industries.
- Healthcare – The report’s authors expect four digital transformation trends to play a role in healthcare: smart care, care anywhere, empowered care, and intelligent healthcare enterprise.
These short highlights offer only a tiny glimpse into the topics covered by the DTI research.
For more detailed information – including in-depth reports on each industry – visit the DTI website, linked above.
More reports can be found at Accenture.
Questions that Leaders Should Be Asking Themselves
When considering digital transformation initiatives, there are a few questions that business leaders should be asking themselves, according to DTI.
Here are a few:
- Do you have a digitally literate supervisory and executive board?
- Is digital central to your corporate strategy and do you use data for real-time decision-making?
- Are you leveraging existing capabilities and making big bets in new and innovative digital business models?
- As a CEO, are you frequently embedding digital into your online and offline interactions with employees?
These questions can help guide business leaders towards profitable, successful transformations … whether you are designing employee training curricula, digital adoption programs, or full-fledged organizational restructuring.