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What are Digital Transformation Technologies?
Digital transformation involves the use of digital technology to reshape business processes, with the goal of making them more efficient, improving engagement, and promoting a better user experience. Digital transformation might involve creating a digital version of existing products or services, improving the efficiency of existing businesses behind the scenes, or even creating completely new products and services that were unimaginable before the digital age.
Digital transformation is not just about technology. Changes in business processes and corporate culture are equally important to its success. Digital transformation projects can help large, successful organizations compete with more agile, digital-only competitors, and can help smaller companies adapt the product offering to an evolving marketplace.
Digital transformation does not revolve around specific technologies. It can include any technology that will help a business evolve and achieve better outcomes. We’ll cover several innovative technologies that are commonly used in digital transformation initiatives—most initiatives use more than one of these technologies.
In this article:
- Digital Transformation in the Organization
- Top Digital Transformation Technologies
- Cloud Transformation with Cloud Volumes ONTAP
Digital Transformation in the Organization
New technologies play a central role in digital transformation, but they cannot operate in a vacuum. Any organization undergoing digital transformation must consider how it will evolve its business processes, business models, and organizational culture.
Business Process Transformation
This involves changing existing processes and workflows to meet new business goals, competition, and customer demands. Digital transformation is a subset of business transformation, helping an organization build a technological framework that supports change and development.
Business Model Transformation
Business process transformation focuses on workflows and tasks carried out by the business in daily operations, while business model transformation considers how value is delivered in the industry and what new opportunities technology can create. In business model transformation, the organization considers how it can serve the market differently to create more value and improve business outcomes.
Organizational and Cultural Transformation
A successful digital transformation must be coordinated with the culture and values of the organization. It is critical to get the workforce on board and create trust in the organization, its culture, and the digital initiative. Failure to achieve consensus around digital transformation can lead to slow or pessimistic adoption of new technologies. In turn, this can cause delayed or failed implementations, and a failure to realize the full benefits of digital transformation.
Related content: Read our guide to digital transformation strategy
Top Digital Transformation Technologies
1. Cloud Technology
Cloud computing is a broad term that refers to the provisioning of computing services in a flexible and scalable manner, often, but not always, using third-party providers. Cloud computing services fall into three main categories:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)—provides on demand access to infrastructure like servers, storage, and networking.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)—a hosted environment that allows organizations to build new services and gain access to advanced technologies.
- Software as a Service (SaaS)—business applications operated by third party providers and offered as a service over the Internet.
Cloud computing is an important digital transformation technology that provides flexibility, scalability and agility. Most digital transformation initiatives leverage the cloud, because often traditional infrastructure is not sufficiently advanced, scalable, agile, and cost-effective to run the required digital infrastructure.
Related content: Read our guide to the future of cloud computing
2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) involve simulating human cognitive processes by machines. Specific applications of artificial intelligence include expert systems, natural language processing, computer vision, predictive analytics, and speech recognition.
Digital transformation initiatives make extensive use of AI/ML as part of new business strategies. In addition to improving productivity, these technologies are critical to better making use of the data that businesses collect. Deriving actionable insights from data enables businesses to improve their products and services and develop innovative strategies.
3. Big Data
Data is considered the fuel of the modern economy, and is an invaluable resource for most organizations. This has led to exponential growth, which is only expected to increase in the coming years, creating both a challenge and opportunity for any business.
Big data can include structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data collected by organizations in their daily operations, from their customers, or obtained from third parties. This data can be used for predictive modeling, data mining, and other types of data analytics.
By implementing big data analytics, organizations can process large amounts of data, extract information relevant to the business, create strategic models and make data-driven decisions.
4. Real-Time Analytics
Real time analytics is the analysis of data and related resources as soon as it enters the system. “Real time” refers to the ability to act on data in a way that users perceive as instantaneous.
Streaming data architectures deliver data from operational systems in real time, leverage high performance analytics engines, and enable fast operational decisions. These decisions can be carried out by robotic process automation (RPA) or other forms of automated policy enforcement.
5. Internet of Things and 5G
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of computing devices, machines, or other objects which are connected to the Internet and able to transfer data over a network. They can often function independently, without requiring a human or traditional computer system to oversee them.
IoT devices require more bandwidth, faster transmission capabilities, and seamless connections, which is made possible by 5G technology. For example, most major cities in the world have implemented a network of IoT sensors, many of them connected by 5G, as part of their digital transformation.
In the manufacturing industry, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), also known as Industry 4.0, is driving digital transformation. This technology helps manufacturers improve operations and increase flexibility, innovation, speed and quality.
In the retail industry, IoT plays a key role in increasing customer satisfaction by providing valuable insights about how consumers buy and use products. In healthcare, telemedicine enables new, innovative services thanks to wearable devices and portable medical equipment that can be deployed in patient’s homes or physically attached to them.
6. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) connects digital information to a visual user experience. Unlike virtual reality, which creates an entirely artificial environment, augmented reality takes an existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.
AR can be applied both to employee tasks and consumer interactions with a company. It helps businesses increase productivity and quality, facilitate knowledge transfer, improved training, and superior customer support. It opens the way for a more intuitive use of technology and is expected to change the way we interact with digital systems.
7. Digital Twin
Digital twin is a technology that helps bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds. A digital twin is a virtual model designed to accurately reflect a physical object.
The real object is equipped with various sensors related to important functional areas. These sensors generate data on various aspects of object performance, such as energy output, temperature, and weather conditions. The data is then passed to a processing system and applied to the digital copy.
This makes it possible for organizations to use the virtual model to run simulations, investigate performance issues, and make possible improvements. The objective is to generate valuable insights that can be applied back to the real physical object.
Applications of digital twin include:
- Improving diagnosis and treatment in the healthcare industry
- Optimizing manufacturing in the automotive and aerospace industries.
- Improving the way consumer products are developed, designed, and sold.
8. Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing
Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, adds digital flexibility and efficiency to the manufacturing process. AM uses computer-aided design (CAD) to instruct hardware to deposit a material with a specific shape layer by layer, automatically fabricating a desired object. In contrast, when creating traditional objects, it was necessary to start from raw material and remove parts of it using milling, engraving, molding, and so on.
AM is a technology that has existed for several decades and is highly mature. When implemented correctly, it enables high-quality end-products with improved performance, more complex geometries than were possible in traditional processes, and simplified manufacturing.
Cloud Transformation with Cloud Volumes ONTAP
Cloud computing is at the core of digital transformation, elevating it from the adoption stage of digital technology to include also the tools, rebuilding process, and the experience of a virtual environment that is accessible from anywhere. In order for an organization to achieve its goals and secure future viability, it needs to adopt a cloud-first or hybrid cloud management strategy.
NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP capacity can scale into the petabytes, and it supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.
NetApp and Cloud Volumes ONTAP play a key role in the cloud transformation process, helping enterprises move workloads and data to the cloud securely, manage them efficiently, and integrate them with modern cloud technologies. This frees the organizations from the burden of managing large-scale storage infrastructure and allows them to focus on their core business.
In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP assists with cloud migration in digital transformation projects. Learn more about how Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps with lift and shift cloud migration.
Read how Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps customers in these Cloud Migration Case Studies.