Digital transformation has emerged as something of a buzzword in the business world in recent times, as companies seek to reinvent themselves in the digital age. According to IDC, around 40% of all technology spending in 2019 was on digital transformation, with an overall outlay of around $2 trillion. From improved collaboration to streamlined business operations, there are many reasons why companies are adjusting their relationships with the digital sphere.
Cloud-based software giant Salesforce defines digital transformation as: “The process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.”
This transcends simply converting information from analog to digital and using digital technologies to simplify established ways of working. Digital transformation is a holistic concept involving a radical reconsideration of how companies harness technology, people, and processes. This typically has the aim of pursuing new business models or revenue streams, or to compete with disruption from competitors. Aside from finding the right technology, employees and customers must be able to successfully leverage this, which may require a company to overhaul its culture entirely.
One broad example of digital transformation in practice is the so-called Amazon effect, which one publication defines as: “the ongoing evolution and disruption of the retail market, both online and in physical outlets, resulting from increased e-commerce.” Amazon’s innovative approach to commerce through digital methods like prioritizing online shopping generally, introducing proximity marketing and utilizing artificial intelligence has since been copied by many other businesses. Other digital transformation initiatives include switching from user-owned hardware to cloud computing, modernizing financial software by embracing ERPs, and using technology — like virtual assistants — to improve customer experience.
The advantages of digital transformation are manifold and can ultimately help a company grow, increase profits, and foster a digital culture. Here’s how:
Digital transformation enables core business functions such as finance, HR, and marketing to move away from manual processes and restrictive legacy software to modern, automated solutions. This allows more time for wider business opportunities and improved efficiency.
Harnessing digital technologies enable companies to better track metrics and analyze data which, in turn, can inform and optimize their strategies and processes for better results. This is particularly beneficial for customer experience, as such insights assist things like hyper-personalization.
Rather than collaborating via cumbersome methods like emails, new technologies enable individuals and departments to work together through centralized apps.
As businesses grow, the technology they’ve traditionally used can become harder to maintain and less effective at protecting data, thus making them prone to failure or a target for cyber attacks. New technologies tend to be more functional with better security measures, keeping data safe.
One aspect of digital transformation is the modernization of processes which are underpinned by spreadsheets. Excel is used on over a billion devices worldwide for countless purposes, such as accounting, sales forecasting, pricing and configuration, and data analysis. However, like many types of legacy software, Excel is plagued with shortcomings that can prevent businesses from moving forward with their digital transformation strategies.
One of these shortcomings is due to the fact that Excel was designed nearly 40 years ago as a desktop solution for the individual user. When pushed into modern environments that involve multiple users accessing the tools they need via the web, then Excel fails miserably. Version confusion, for instance, frequently occurs when multiple users are working off different versions of a spreadsheet at the same time. As edited spreadsheets accumulate on individual systems, users are more likely to share out-of-date files and cause problems for a company. Excel can also bring compatibility issues if users have different operating systems and different editions of Excel than the person who created the original version of a given spreadsheet. This may render them unable to use the software effectively, especially if the spreadsheet contains VB or macros.
Another issue is data security. With multiple users saving many instances on local disks, valuable data is being stored in flat files. This can unintentionally expose business data and IP, even if utilizing Excel’s security features, which are limited and do not offer the level of protection expected of modern systems.
Many businesses have relied on Excel for some time and have so much crucial business process knowledge and data stored within their spreadsheets that they are reluctant to stop using it in spite of the issues. With EASA software, they don’t have to. By “webifying” spreadsheets, the spreadsheet can be accessed online and shared easily if required, eradicating many of the above issues. Though EASA alone won’t enable companies to achieve digital transformation, it can play a significant part in a holistic strategy, considering how important spreadsheets are to businesses around the world. Here are some of the ways the software can transform the way enterprises operate:
EASA eliminates version confusion by only allowing users to access and edit the most up-to-date version of the spreadsheet, and only the permitted administrators can update the master version. As a result, multiple individuals can use a spreadsheet via a browser simultaneously without the risk of overwriting somebody’s work or having to log out.
Users usually require a specific version of Excel to use spreadsheets created by others. Using EASA’s technology means they only need a web browser and an internet connection either to the company’s network or the cloud.
EASA only allows authorized individuals to edit and update master versions of a particular spreadsheet; other users can then access the centralized web version of the spreadsheet. Without access to the master file, these users cannot view or amend the master spreadsheet, thus protecting intellectual property. Furthermore, when each user makes changes and saves an instance of a spreadsheet, that information is now saved to a relational database rather than a local flat file.
EASA enables businesses to integrate and automate spreadsheets with other types of software and data sources, including CRM systems, ERP software, and databases. Such integration and automation are cornerstones of digital transformation. This streamlines processes and operations, facilitates collaboration, and drives data-based insights.