“From fintech to healthcare and in smart cities and transport, digital transformation has become the watchword of modern enterprise and government IT. But which technologies truly help organisations devise transformative strategies to benefit from digital opportunities? reports Jason Walsh.

Developing a digital transformation strategy is now considered not a ‘blue-sky’ project, but an immediate need. Facing pressure from competitors, including new digital-first entrants, many an apparently entrenched business is now resolving to look at exactly how it does business, and what systems it can deploy to smooth out and speed up this business. But, behind the jargon — agile, DevOps, artificial intelligence, machine learning, even digital transformation itself — how are businesses preparing to use technology to respond to customers’ growing demands?

Strategies for architecture

Rob Curley, Lead Architect at Version 1, said his teams tended to encounter a very strong variation on a theme: the processes that most urgently need transformation are the ones that go outside the business. “The stuff that comes at us over and over again is digitising the customer interaction,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of work with ‘my account’ and ‘self-care’ interaction. It might be a shop, or a utility company or a mobile phone company, and [in each case] people want to see their transactions, print-off their bill, update their personal details. At some level, it is customer interaction.”

Internal processes are also waiting to be transformed, but are typically seen as somewhat less urgent. “You can work internally, too: digitise your accounts or HR processes — and that should be done — but we see the greatest urgency in customer-facing applications,” he said.

Making machines learn

Artificial intelligence (AI) is touted as a central pillar of future digital transformation strategies. Then again, AI is touted as the solution to everything these days. Rob Curley of Version 1 said that this was a major growth area as, done correctly, it takes a lot of strain away from organisations. “Chatbots are another area where we’re seeing a lot of intensification. A chatbot should be learning. Obviously needs to be monitored, and it should be, but it’s a growing area; it needs to learn,” he said. In the final analysis, digital transformation is happening both because it can and because it suits the interests of both the business and its clients, but only if it is done correctly.”