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Trouble Scaling? Examine How You Approach Digital Transformation. Research shows a large number of companies are lagging in the use of advanced digital technologies for non-customer-facing operating activities.

By Alex Yakubovich

entrepreneur daily

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Innovation pays off -- and if you're not regularly investing in it, your company's growth may be suffering. Seamless collaboration and automation yield bigger savings, greater operational efficiency, more strategically aligned decisions and, ultimately, better business outcomes. In today's digital world, the only way to achieve this is through innovative technology.

While effective technology is the clear way of the future (and indeed, the future is now), many organizations still aren't up to speed. In fact, new research from Harvard Business Review Analytics Services (HBR), in partnership with Scout RFP, found that a large number of companies are lagging in the use of advanced digital technologies for non-customer-facing operating activities. One of the most prominent areas where digital transformation lacks is sourcing and procurement -- which is especially problematic due to increased pressure on businesses to increase efficiency, strategic thinking and collaboration.

Related: 6 Must-Have Tech Tools to Close More Sales

Organizations that have yet to prioritize digital transformation are hobbling their success and hindering their scaling efforts. A sourcing executive interviewed for HBR's research paper drove home the crucial contributions of technology: "At a company growing as quickly as ours, technology has been essential to our ability to scale. We needed to scale up without asking for a huge investment, which meant we needed to automate." Greg Tennyson, CPO of VSP Global, echoed this sentiment: "Automation allows all parties to get things done as quickly as possible without a lot of fanfare or oversight."

So, this begs the question: Why aren't businesses adopting technology to automate critical business functions as quickly as they should?

Related: 4 Ways Technology Improves the Human Resources (and Human) Experience

Top reasons, according to HBR research, include the inability to experiment quickly, legacy systems, the inability to work across silos, a risk-averse culture and a lack of corporate vision for digital. Take a 1-2-3 approach to mitigate these roadblocks:

  1. Appreciate: Understand how the right technology can transform your business -- and all the benefits it can unleash.
  2. Educate: Shift the mindset of your company -- all the way up to the top executive level -- to one that embraces and paves the way for a digital transformation.
  3. Automate: Research your options and select the technology that makes most sense for you. Ensure high adoption rates through a comprehensive adoption process.

Owens Corning, a global manufacturer of insulation, roofing and fiberglass composites, took this approach. As Gregg Focht, global indirect sourcing operations leader, noted in HBR's research paper, "It's our annual ritual to establish goals for value creation. They're generally stretch goals, and we're constantly looking for new and creative ways to meet them." For the sourcing team, this entailed finding a technology that could meet their needs. "Because our team is global, we needed an easier way to collaborate, a way the older legacy systems could not provide. To address this disconnect, we adopted an automated and cloud-based solution so that the team, the business and suppliers could collaborate in real time."

Related: Why Fintech Startups Need Smart Analytics

For Owens Corning, these efforts paid off handsomely. In 2016, the sourcing team contributed millions of dollars of hard savings, which helped helped the company achieve record levels of adjusted EBIT and free cash flow.

This is just one example of how the digital transformation can impact companies of all sizes and, ultimately, lead to better outcomes and a bigger business impact. Ready to embrace the potential of effective technology in your own organization? It's as simple as 1-2-3.

Alex Yakubovich

CEO at Scout RFP

As CEO, Alex Yakubovich sets the business direction and strategy for Scout RFP. He previously was a co-founder in ONOSYS, which was acquired by LivingSocial in 2012. At ONOSYS, he led the operations team and helped the company become one of the largest online ordering providers in the country.

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