The Business Potential of Digital Transformation

As part of its Professional Series, the Office of Alumni Affairs presented “The Business Potential of Digital Transformation: Rethink How Business Gets Done and Prepare for Tomorrow” on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. It featured Dr. Charles Popper, founder and CEO of the TechPar Group, a technology advisory firm, and Daniel Cohen-Dumani, partner and market leader for Withum Digital.

Digital Transformation poster for webinar

They spoke about the effects, opportunities and challenges companies face as they pivot toward doing more of their business using digital platforms and processes, especially during the pandemic, when more and more people are migrating their operations to the cloud.

According to Dr. Popper, “Digital transformation is the use of digital technologies (such as ubiquitous broadband, data analytics and machine learning/artificial intelligence, to name a few)and the data they produce to connect organizations, people, physical assets, and processes to generate better business outcomes.” An example of this is using a digital production process to print a book electronically as well as make it available electronically.

Cohen-Duhmani added that “digital transformation can be considered the next industrial revolution,” demonstrated, he believed by how the digital and physical worlds are becoming more fully integrated.

What does all of this mean for the day-to-day operations of a business?

The first, and perhaps most important, point concerns productivity. As Dr. Popper pointed out, the American economy has suffered from a fall-off in productivity, and the research by TechPar shows that digitalization of business processes has the potential to create the productivity transformation that leads to increased business value.

However, as TechPar also found out, in order for a company to be successful, the “digital transformation must be integrated within the business strategy.  Companies cannot ‘go digital’ merely for the sake of ‘going digital.’”

A second point concerns the new operating models that come into being when technology and social factors shift, as they are doing today. For instance, as they pointed out, real estate has had to redefine how it does business as companies struggle with the choice of operating in-person or remotely. Because of technology, landlords are going to have to start thinking about leasing options with flexibility that also somehow take into account a remote work force.

Cohen-Duhmani described 2020 as the year that accelerated this process, from digital transformation being used for innovation to digital transformation as a requirement for business continuity stability in times of uncertainty.

Some key trends that Cohen-Duhmani highlighted as a result of COVID are that the “cloud is more prevalent then ever, cybersecurity is a #1 priority and becoming more complex, AI and machine learning are powering businesses through the pandemic, automation will see more growth post-COVID, and augmented reality and virtual reality will enhance how we feel while sitting on Zoom calls, and customer interactions with businesses. We are in a world where we will continue to see a lot of things happening remotely regardless of where you are,” a situation that will influence the expectations of young people coming into the job market about where they can work and what they can do.

As if there weren’t already enough to worry about with digital transformation, automation is poised to be the next disruption of work, according the McKinsey Global Institute. “Companies that deploy automation technologies can realize substantial performance gains and take the lead in their industries,” said Dr. Popper, “even as their efforts contribute to economy-level increases in productivity.”

Cohen-Duhmani observed that “as we emerge from the coronavirus, organizations will need to develop new ways of working and rely heavily on digital transformation to enable us to work together while apart. It is imperative to the success of a business to be a leader in workplace flexibility.”

For Aliza Abrams Konig, director of alumni engagement, “it is so exciting to bring professionals at the top of their fields to the YU community to speak about timely and cutting-edge topics. Our alumni are out there shaping the fields of technology and finance and they truly appreciate attending these webinars and the takeaways they bring back with them to their work.” Abrams Konig also gave a shout-out to Lawrence Askowitz ’87YC, co-chair of the Yeshiva University Wall Street Group, saying, “We are truly blessed to have Lawrence as an alum and as a volunteer who coordinated all of these webinars.”

Those interested in hearing a recording of the webinar can find it on YouTube.