Welcome to The Week in Digital Transformation, a regular round-up where we look back on the most interesting ideas, announcements and developments in the realm of digital transformation over the past week.

This week’s instalment is packed with big names, as Coca-Cola, Volkswagen and Manchester United are all doubling down on digital transformation in different ways. Coca-Cola wants to use AR to go beyond reality, Volkswagen is joining the sharing economy, and Man United has unveiled a gleaming new app and website as part of its broader transformation strategy.

Meanwhile, UK CEOs are grappling with the huge and often inflated expectations of their company boards with regard to digital transformation, and the telecom industry is waking up to the need to transform itself – while also keeping customers as happy as possible.

How Coca-Cola plans to “beat the real thing” with augmented reality

One of the remarkable things about digital transformation is that it affects all organisations, no matter what their size. Different companies might face different types of challenges depending on how large or small, new or old, agile or traditional they are – but all of them are grappling with the question of digital transformation just the same. Including titans like Coca-Cola.

At the Adobe Symposium in Singapore this week, Mariano Bosaz, VP Digital Transformation for Greater China and Korea at The Coca-Cola Company spoke on Coca-Cola’s “four-point plan” for digital transformation.

The plan comprises of four types of transformation: “experience transformation”, “operational transformation”, “business transformation” and “cultural transformation”.

And when it comes to experiences, Coca-Cola isn’t content with a run-of-the-mill digital or physical experience: it wants to use AR to go a step further. Digital transformation, said Bosaz, enables Coca-Cola to “beat the real thing” – create an experience with its product that goes beyond the physical item (e.g. a can of coke), personalises it and connects with the consumer.

A recent campaign by Coca-Cola in China used augmented reality to add an interactive experience to Coke cans, unlocking information about a different Chinese province with each can.

We can expect to see this in action from Coca-Cola at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, according to Bosaz: Coca-Cola invited the public to create user-generated content around what the spirit of Coca-Cola, the Olympics and Tokyo 2020 mean to them, which will presumably be brought to life via AR in a creative way around the event. It will be an interesting one to watch – particularly if the improvements in AR that we’ve been seeing lately continue over the next two years.

Volkswagen to invest in digital transformation, join the sharing economy

And speaking of major brands and digital transformation: the news came this week that Volkswagen is planning to invest 3.5 billion Euros into digital transformation by 2025.

The company will use the funds to “build digital businesses and products including a cloud computing-based platform to connect vehicles and customers to offer services such as car sharing”, according to Reuters.

The car-sharing business, named “We Share”, is due to launch in Berlin in the second quarter of 2019 with a fleet of 2,000 electric cars. (Perhaps these cars from Volkswagen actually will minimise their impact on the environment!) From there, it’s set to roll out to “core European markets as well as selected cities in the United States and Canada”.

So, coming soon to a major city near you.

UK CEOs are facing “unreasonable expectations” with digital transformation

New research by KPCG, the company behind the major annual Internet Trends Report, has revealed that chief executives in the UK are feeling the pressure over digital transformation.

A survey of 150 UK CEOs found that the majority of executives feel frustrated over “short termism” and “unreasonable expectations” when it comes to proving the ROI of digital transformation, an attitude stemming from company boards.

Unlike the boards they answer to, chief executives understand the need to take a long-term view of new technologies, with many expecting to wait 3-5 years to see a return from emerging technologies such as AI or robotics.

However, perhaps unsurprisingly, boards may be looking for short-term wins and flashy announcements that they can make in order to prove that the company is making a success of digital transformation.

In spite of their frustration over the expectations that stem from digital transformation, UK CEOs aren’t negative about the idea of digital transformation – or its effects. KPCG’s study found that 95% of CEOs surveyed agree that digital transformation is more of an opportunity than a threat, while 71% believed that AI would create more jobs, at least in the short term.

But the scale of the task at hand is getting to them – 86% are overwhelmed by the time needed to make progress, while 50% were not confident that their immediate team had the experience needed to oversee such a radical change.

Manchester United aims to become a “Digital Sports Enterprise” – starting with a major new app

Manchester United Football Club has set out on an ambitious plan to transform itself into a “Digital Sports Enterprise”, and recently reached a significant milestone with the launch of a new app and revamped club website.

The Manchester United Official app offers exclusive updates on the team, match information, stats, videos and other content of interest to fans, as well as allowing them to personalise the experience by picking a favourite player and creating their own Man United shirt.

I’m ready to hit the pitch!

It links up with the new website, which has even more news and information on the club and its partners, as well as tickets, a shop, and a “My United” personal portal.

Manchester United’s digital transformation is being delivered in collaboration with Indian IT services firm HCL Technologies, who have developed a digital platform that provides the club with “a single view of fans across web and app touchpoints” and “offers fans a one-stop shop for everything Manchester United”, according to a press release by HCL.

Alongside powering the club’s sleek new app and website, the platform is designed to allow Man United to adapt as new technologies emerge in future, making it a more agile, and digital company going forward.

What does the telecom industry need to do in order to transform itself?

The telecom industry has had a crucial role to play in the evolution of mobile communications and the information age – and yet paradoxically, much of the industry is still behind the curve.

According to Information Age, most telecom vendors today still have the same software that they had 10 or 15 years ago, failing to recognise “the tremendous shift that was going to occur in the market”.

In an interview with MATRIXX Software, an organisation that did take steps to digitally transform (and credits itself as “the brains behind the digital transformation shift in the telecom industry”), Information Age sets out to determine what is needed for the industry to turn things around.

The interview highlights three key metrics instigating digital transformation in the telecom industry: customer satisfaction, new revenue streams, and margin. As revenue from voice and texting fades away, telecom operators are making efforts to provide a “lifestyle experience” and provide a broader set of offerings to consumers, often merging with other companies in unusual ways in a bid to achieve this.

The driving force behind all of this is customer satisfaction: a desire to keep customers happy so that they spend more money, don’t churn, and recommend their telecom operator to their friends. “That’s what’s driving a lot of the digital transformation investment, and it’s occurring across entire industries,” writes Information Age.

The “key to digital transformation” revisited: cloud printing

In our last digital transformation round-up, we talked about the appeal of the idea that a specific innovation, technology or action is the “key” to unlocking digital transformation – leading to a plethora of articles being published that claim to have discovered the “key to digital transformation” in various industries.

This week, we’ve got one more: cloud printing. While it might sound laughably innocuous, even incidental, enterprise office solution provider Y Soft has argued that transitioning to a cloud-based printing solution would remove administrative tasks and associated costs, freeing up IT resources to focus on more important strategic elements.

“While the need to frequently print documents isn’t quite as prevalent as it once was, printing still makes up a crucial part of IT processes for many companies, meaning cloud printing is essential if organisations want to ensure that all of their IT assets are properly joined up,” said James Turner, Regional Sales Manager at Y Soft.

While Y Soft, as a provider of cloud-based printing solutions, obviously has a vested interest in seeing cloud printing catch on, there’s some merit to the argument as well. We recently looked at the advantages of using a cloud-based CRM system to manage your customer relationships, and many of those benefits are applicable to any cloud computing service.

Whether or not it will be the key, the cloud has a huge role to play in the advent of digital transformation in every sector.

Econsultancy is holding a Fast Track Digital Transformation Training course on 29th August at Etc Venues in London – or get in touch to find out about our bespoke digital transformation consulting.