Digital transformation is happening all around us as our lives become more dependent on internet technology. Yet, whereas much of this transition is driven by consumer desire for ease, speed, and convenience, businesses are sometimes reluctant to make the requisite investments to meet this growing demand for digitization.
Doing so is often seen as prohibitively expensive.
However, below are six industries that continue to embrace the digital transformation. This is precisely because technology allows them to reduce costs while providing superior service to end users.
1. Health Care
The health care industry has always been at the forefront of technological advancement, often with the goals of delivering better patient outcomes while simultaneously reducing costs.
The move from paper-based patient files to electronic health records (EHRs) is arguably the most conspicuous example of this trend.
In more recent years, though, the medical community has also turned to:
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to assist with faster and more accurate diagnoses
- Payment integration to alleviate the back-office administration and billing costs that account for more than 8% of all health care spending in the United States
In addition, there is a growing push to offer patients more payment options. An estimated 80% of health care providers still rely exclusively on cash, check, and credit cards — even though a nearly equal percentage of patients report that mobile payment options “significantly improved their satisfaction with providers.”
Despite countless articles documenting the demise of brick-and-mortar retail, the number of physical stores is growing — not shrinking. Still, brick-and-mortar merchants are heavily incentivized to shift more of their inventory to digital channels if they want to thrive.
In the U.S. alone, online shopping is already a $500 billion industry — which is 14% higher than it was just one year prior. It’s not hard to understand what’s fueling this explosive growth. For many consumers, buying online is simply easier and more convenient than shopping in person.
These benefits become even more amplified when you consider that mobile browsing officially surpassed desktop internet usage in 2016. Customers can still shop from the comfort of home — just as they did during the early days of the e-commerce boom. Now, with smartphones always in arm’s reach, users can fill their digital shopping carts anywhere they go.
In addition, there are more wearable technologies, web-connected smart devices and digital personal assistance than ever before — with nearly all offering users the ability to order online with a click of a button or by speaking their preferences.
The gambling industry has largely welcomed digitization with open arms — primarily motivated by the tremendous profit potential that technology offers:
- The 1992 passage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, for example, placed tighter restrictions on gambling. This incentivized many in the industry to move more of their operations to the largely unregulated online world.
- Facial recognition technology and machine learning have allowed casinos to better track user behavior as they try to develop more personalized experiences for guests.
- Expanded payment options help reduce friction, enabling customers to convert money to gambling chips faster and with far fewer hurdles.
On the horizon, newer technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality will help make the entire gambling experience more immersive for users around the globe. One could theoretically walk into an 1880s Western saloon and play a few rounds of Texas Hold ’em — without getting out of bed.
Every industry strives to become more efficient. In the oil and gas sector, this desire is especially pronounced, since:
- Petroleum is a limited (and dwindling) resource that continues to experience increasing demand.
- Sourcing and extracting this petroleum becomes more expensive with every year.
- Inefficiencies aren’t simply costly — they can lead to injuries, fatalities, and environmental spills.
This explains why it’s reported that oil and gas companies are turning to AI to help manage the 40,000 data points normally collected on a typical offshore rig. Increased reliance on machine learning helps remove some of the expensive guesswork that goes into hydrocarbon exploration.
Automation allows oil and gas companies to move more personnel out of harm’s way — while simultaneously reducing the frequency and severity of ecological disasters.
Supermarkets have largely escaped the supposed “retail apocalypse” simply because many food items come with incredibly short shelf lives. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped the grocery industry from exploring other ways to digitize its offerings:
- By making supply chains more efficient, AI can help protect profits in an industry with notoriously thin margins.
- Self-service checkout options are helping supermarkets reduce staffing costs and save money.
- A growing number of grocery stores now offer delivery, allowing perishable goods purchased online to arrive the same day.
Where supermarkets will ultimately take this digital push remains to be seen — but Amazon Go is probably a fairly good indication. These innovative grocery stores have completely removed cashiers, queues and checkouts from the brick-and-mortar shopping experience.
5. Quick-Service Restaurants
It’s hard to imagine fast food becoming cheaper, but it can certainly become faster. That’s what the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry is trying to achieve with some of its digitization efforts:
- Self-service kiosks allow customers to tap their orders using touchscreen displays. This can not only reduce queuing, but also cut down on staffing costs.
- Fast food chains increasingly now offer the ability to order online — with customers able to choose between pickup or delivery.
QSRs are also leveraging digital technology to better service their clients. This is particularly true at the drive-thru, which accounts for up to 70% of total fast food revenues. For example, automatic number plate recognition technology allows restaurants to instantly identify patrons (and their food preferences) before they order.
How Is Digital Transformation Impacting Your Business?
If you’re in an industry not on this list, you may be tempted to think you can afford to remain on the sidelines. That said, it’s not really possible to escape the impact of the global digitization trend.
Society is becoming less analog every day. Rather than view technology as a traditional expense, businesses should correctly see it as an investment that can reduce costs and boost profits.