Digital transformation: Don’t forget the back-end!

  • Going mobile is not the end of the digital journey
  • A digital front-end is useless without a digital-backend
Digital transformation: Don’t forget the back-end!

 
WHEN the term ‘digital transformation’ is brought up, thoughts usually turn to the user interface, mobile, and consumer-facing apps. This heavy focus on the front-end can blind companies from realising a ‘true’ digital transformation, argues an Oracle Corp senior executive.
 
And such a digital transformation can only come from digitising and integrating back- and front-end services.
 
Going mobile is just part of the process and not the end-point of a digital journey, says Chin Ying Loong, vice president of Asean and Sage (South Asia Growing Economies), Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle Corp.
 
“I talk to a lot of people who say they are in digital, but what they have is just a mobile channel to transact,” he says, speaking recently to Digital News Asia (DNA) in Singapore.
 
“That’s not the end, there are still many other portions that you need to look at,” he adds.
 
This need to integrate both ‘ends’ is not a recent realisation either, he says, pointing out that banks have been implementing omni-channel services for some time now.
 
Successful integration between the back- and front-end can result in a better and more seamless customer experience, according to Chin.
 
“Today, if you apply for a credit card via the web or mobile, the experience can be very different.
 
“Integration allows you to start a transaction via the web and complete it by walking into a branch – seamlessly, because the other channels know what you’ve done on the web channel,” he adds.
 
Competing for customers
 
Digital transformation: Don’t forget the back-end!Attention spans are getting shorter and customers are less willing to wait for companies to keep up with the digital world, especially with choices just a click away, according to Chin (pic).
 
Building a platform of common services for different channels to consume is key for businesses to compete in the digital world, he argues.
 
“There are different back-ends with commonalities across the different channels.
 
“Mobile is just a channel – if there is no integration, changing the logic across the channels can be tedious.
 
“Without integration, you will end up having to change the logic across the different channels, and may miss out on changing a single channel,” he adds.
 
A seamless customer experience does not only retain or win customers, but opens opportunity for up- or cross-selling, Chin argues.
 
“You can do up-selling or cross-selling once you have that stickiness” and know who your customers are, he adds.
 
Ripping out the guts
 
To be a full-fledged digital player today, a business’ back-end has to match its front-end. Without any integration, a fully digital front-end is useless.
 
“You can’t go digital without integration between the front-end and the various legacy back-end systems,” Chin cautions.
 
“Without the back-end, the front-end is useless because you cannot pull the right and timely information, resulting in a bad customer experience,” he adds.
 
But becoming fully digital does not mean ripping out everything and getting a new set, as legacy systems might still be useful, according to Chin.
 
“You can still reuse your legacy systems – that’s where the integration comes in, to pool all the data,” he says.
 
“You cannot go into that digital world without cleaning up your back-end – your customer experience will be so bad that it will render your channels useless,” he adds.
 
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Axiata’s bumpy IT transformation programme: Lessons learnt
 
Digital disruption: In 3yrs, nothing will be the same
 
 
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