Digital innovation definition

Digital innovation is directly linked to digital transformation, whereby technology is used to revolutionise the way a business functions, bringing about growth and success. Digital innovation specifically refers to the process of discovering new technology to solve old problems, thus bringing about digital transformation. The more innovative and digitally mature a business is, the more likely they are to beat competitors and become market leaders in their field.

When is the best time for digital innovation?

To put it bluntly… now!

The pace of technological progress is exponential and only set to continue accelerating. In fact, many IT specialists refer to technological years as ‘dog years’, whereby one ‘normal’ year equates to seven years in the digital world.

“Never in the history of mankind have so many such advancements emerged in parallel and in combination, carrying so much impact.” – Norman Winarsky – Cofounder of Siri

As such, it’s imperative that businesses begin to make changes towards digital innovation and transformation now. Those who have done so already have enjoyed impressive results, for example, MIT report that digitally mature firms are already 26% more profitable than their peers.

Digital innovation really is a simple case of disrupt or be disrupted, to the point where experts have coined the term ‘Digital Darwinism’, referring to the parallel between technological progress and evolution.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

For businesses to maintain or improve on their level of success, they need to strive to think outside of the box when it comes to technology. In recent years, the concepts of digital innovation and digital transformation have been widely discussed, meaning you probably already know how important they are.

But studies have found that over 45% of business leaders don’t know where to start when it comes to developing their digital strategy. Which is why we’ve put together this article, filled with examples and anecdotes aimed at inspiring your business to begin to build the foundations for digital innovation and transformation, thus setting yourself up for growth and success.

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Common technologies associated with digital innovation (and examples!)

1. Cloud computing

What is it?

Cloud computing is one of the most popular technologies associated with digital transformation. It refers to the process of storing all data and applications on hardware in a data centre which employees can access via the internet. Cloud computing solutions can be delivered to improve efficiency across almost every aspect of business, including telecommunications, file sharing, data storage, collaboration with colleagues and more.

Unlike traditional methods of computing, you don’t need any additional expensive IT equipment. Instead, all you need is a device and a stable internet connection. Additionally, because data is stored on the cloud, you don’t need powerful devices that can accommodate all of your memory intensive applications and files. Cloud computing has become especially useful in recent months, as it facilitates seamless remote working capabilities for businesses who cannot work in the office, allowing employees to access and collaborate on data from anywhere, at any time.

How it’s transforming organisations:

Last year, Netstar managed a complex series of migrations to the cloud for Chelverton Asset Management, who wanted to boost their security, productivity and efficiency. This involved migrating over to Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Datto Workplace for effective file sync and sharing. The ability to access data easily and flexibly via the cloud was a gamechanger for Chelverton Asset Management, meaning their employees could work from anywhere at any time (particularly advantageous given the recent lockdown measures).

Business Support Manager, Lisa Pavitt, commented on the success of the cloud migrations; “it was a big change and we were all dreading it. I couldn’t believe we’d just log in and it would all be working. But it pretty much went completely to plan. We were all up and running really quickly.”

To find out more about how we helped Chelverton Asset Management, click here.

2. Data and analytics

What is it?

Gathering and analysing data in order to adjust business practices and improve performance has always been an important factor in business strategy. But experts predict that the importance of data and analytics will increase significantly, in line with the development of technology to assist with data analysis and interpretation.

Leading organisations are already using data and analytics as competitive weapons to solidify their positions as market leaders, with many other businesses beginning to follow suit. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2022, 90% of business strategies will highlight data as a critical asset, and analytics as an essential competency.

How it’s transforming organisations:

Data and analytics are now so crucial for success that many organisations base their entire business models on obtaining and selling data. This data can then be analysed and used by their clients to increase sales, adapt processes and add value. For example, Leads Forensics provide their clients with details about their website viewers and their behaviour when browsing the site – including the company name, contact information, demographics and their search behaviour. This valuable data can then be used to improve marketing strategies, identify leads and boost sales. Lead Forensics client, Just Roll Payroll Services, claim that access to this data has given them “a leg-up on the competition for valuable new business opportunities.”

3. Artificial intelligence

What is it?

Otherwise known as machine intelligence, artificial intelligence refers to when machines and technology can mimic the cognitive functions usually displayed by humans and animals, therefore appearing to have ‘natural intelligence’. In business, artificial intelligence is most commonly used to improve customer experience, whereby customers can talk to chatbots that will answer their questions and provide information in the same way a human customer service representative would.

How it’s transforming organisations:

Artificial intelligence is helping to elevate business practices and processes across the globe. For example, AI-powered customer relationship management (CRM) systems enhance the way businesses can attract, nurture and sell to leads.

Leading CRM provider Hubspot uses built-in AI to add value to the way their customer’s data is organised and interpreted. Here are just some of the ways AI has boosted customer experience for Hubspot users:

  • Scan business cards – use their mobile app to scan business cards, creating new Hubspot contacts instantly
  • Prevent duplicate data – built-in AI automatically finds duplicate contacts and companies for you (even if they include typos, nicknames or abbreviations)
  • Improve SEO – Hubspot’s SEO tool scans your website automatically and recommends a list of topics for you to write about that AI predicts will rank well on Google

Hubspot describe AI as “fast, consistent, and never complains. AI isn’t magic. It’s manageable, practical, and valuable.”

4. Virtual reality

What is it?

Virtual reality refers to the use of technology to immerse people into a solely digital world that directly represents reality. Virtual reality is most widely associated with the gaming world, whereby gamers can wear specialised headsets, handsets and other accessories to create a hyper realistic experience. However, it can also relate to things you encounter in your daily life, such as virtual property viewings.

How it’s transforming organisations:

Virtual reality has revolutionised the way estate agents carry out property viewings. Virtual technology enables buyers or renters to view properties from the comfort of their own mobiles or computers. Virtual tours provide a variety of different vantage points around the property marked by circles on the floor – viewers can then tour the property from 360-degree angles, giving them a good idea of the space, look and design.

This became extremely critical during lockdown as people were unable to view properties physically. Netstar client, Gryphon Property Partners, use advanced 3D 360-degree technology to showcase their office spaces to potential tenants, meaning their business could continue to operate. Over the course of 2020, property specialists who didn’t invest in virtual reality technology were unable to continue offering viewings, causing their businesses to halt entirely. Those who did invest continued to function despite the global lockdown, proving that utilising the latest technology (before it’s absolutely necessary) can deliver impressive results.

More real-life examples of world-changing digital innovation…

If you don’t already realise how fundamental digital innovation has been to the way we live and work, check out the three examples below for ways that digital innovation has literally changed the world.

1. Digitised record keeping

Before the days of Excel spreadsheets and CRM systems, all paperwork had to be done by hand. For paperwork-intensive businesses who manage important client data, e.g. financial services, being able to store and organise information effectively is critical. Luckily, as technology developed, digitised record keeping, and data storage were introduced which revolutionised the way that financial services companies functioned.

2. Smartphones

Prior to the existence of smartphones, mobile phones were typically only used for connecting with others via calls and SMS messages. Nowadays, smartphones have similar capabilities to PCs and laptops, enabling users to search the web, scroll through social media, take high resolution photos and video call others. This has completely changed the way we live and work. Today many of us find ourselves scrolling through an app for almost everything in life, including shopping, replying to work emails, looking for a new house and even finding a date!

3. Ecommerce

Being able to purchase groceries, clothes, furniture, etc. online has reduced the need for people to visit physical shops – which became extremely beneficial when the UK locked down on the 23rd of March 2020! Platforms like Amazon have changed the way we shop on a global level, giving independent shops the opportunity to reach a vastly increased number of customers from around the world.

How does digital innovation apply to my business?

Technology has already brought about such amazing initiatives and growth for businesses globally, and this doesn’t just apply to industry leaders like Amazon. Over the years, digital innovation has significantly impacted every single business in the world. Think about how difficult it would be to do payroll without online banking and accountancy software, or how tricky it would be to deliver an informative presentation without the use of PowerPoint. All of this technology was once new and cutting edge, in the same way that artificial intelligence and virtual reality seem futuristic to us now. Meaning that one day soon, technology like artificial intelligence and virtual reality will be commonplace. Which is why you need to look at investing in digital innovation and the modernisation of the workplace now, before you’re outperformed by your more techy-savvy and ambitious competitors.

For more information on how you can modernise your business with digital innovation and digital transformation, please get in touch today or download our free Digital Transformation guide for Business Owners and Directors below.

Our eBook includes:

  • What is digital transformation?
  • Digital transformation and COVID-19
  • Three popular technologies used for digital transformation
  • The six stages of digital transformation
  • Digital transformation for Financial Services and Property Specialists
  • Our top tips for successful digital transformation