Humans are at the center of digital transformation. Many initiatives overlook this factor -- and pay the price through failures, low buy-in, and human resistance.
Resource-strapped SMEs, which make up about 98% of Hong Kong business landscape according to the Trade and Industry Department, understand this well. While technologies and ideas are vital, they also need the right people and processes to drive digital transformation. Where they cannot recruit the right people, they will need to rely on service providers.
There is where a great disconnect lies and one of the reasons why many SMEs are not seeing the benefits of digital transformation.
“Some [vendors] in Hong Kong only provide you with technology which they try to fit into the customers’ needs. But sometimes it does not work. It is not a total solution; for that, you need the right people and ideas,” said Robert Ip, Managing Director, Konica Minolta Business Solutions (HK) Ltd.
There is an acute shortage of talent in Hong Kong. Ip pointed to the SAR's low 2.8% unemployment rate as a critical concern for many companies, especially SMEs. It makes finding IT talent difficult, let alone the right talent for digital transformation.
Ip noted it is one of the reasons why Hong Kong companies see digital transformation as an expensive exercise. However, by staying on the sidelines, they also lose out in terms of competitiveness and opportunity cost.
HIT-ting all needs
For this reason, Konica Minolta rolled out its HIT strategy. It is founded on three essential foundations that enable digital transformation success, mainly "Humans, Ideas and Technology," said Ip.
The strategy puts humans at the start of any digital transformation initiative. It banks on the Konica Minolta’s deep skills and global experience in driving digital transformation initiatives.
Ip noted that his Technology Enhancement and Development (TED) team has the experience and knowledge that companies need. For any business that lacks specific in-house skills, they can outsource these to Konica Minolta.
"In Hong Kong, our competitive edge lies in combining human, ideas, and technology. Most of our competitors can only provide specific technologies or knowledge. In Hong Kong, most system integrators are small companies that do not have sufficient capital or human resources to deliver a total solution," said Ip, who noted that many companies gloss over the human element when marketing their "total" solutions.
Global ideation support
Konica Minolta sees ideas as vital for any digital transformation, even ahead of technology. This is the next differentiator for Konica Minolta and the reason why idea is the “I” in HIT.
Here, the company has built a global network of business innovation centers (BICs). There are currently five centers located in Hamamatsu-cho, Japan; London, the U.K.; Silicon Valley, the U.S.; Singapore; Shanghai, China. They recruit local talents and use the latest advances to help customers to develop new ideas or solutions.
In Hong Kong, Konica Minolta opened its Customer Experience Centre (CEC) at Quarry Bay on March 22, 2019. The CEC aims to help local companies conceptualize and visualize new solutions that can improve their business, observed Ip.
“Every customer has different needs. The journey towards meeting these needs begins with discovering what those needs are. We launched the CEC to help customers understand their needs. We can also access the talents and experience from the five BICs,” said Ip.
Power of partnership
Konica Minolta does not see itself providing a one-size-fits-all strategy for digital transformation. Ip believed that there is no such thing, as every company faces challenges that are uniquely its own and therefore must walk a distinctive digital transformation journey.
This is where strategic partnerships become essential. For example, the company recently inked a partnership with Microsoft that will see knowledge-sharing activities.
More importantly, it allows Konica Minolta to marry its unique technology differentiators with another’s. For example, with Microsoft, the company is looking to ride on the latter’s Microsoft applications to offer customers new solutions as cloud-enabled document automation, workflow process automation, enterprise web protection and more.
“Such partnerships allow us to provide better solutions to our customers; it is good synergy,” said Ip.
Growing tech portfolio
Konica Minolta is also expanding its portfolio of technologies, ensuring it can support the "T" in HIT.
One such investment is MOBOTIX thermal cameras. Compact in design with flexible installation options, these thermal cameras use the MOBOTIX Intelligent Video Security functions to identify any life-threatening heat sources early that are usually undetectable by humans in natural gas fields.
With a diameter of just five inches, the MOBOTIX c26 is the smallest and lightest 360 degree hemispheric video system that is ideal for indoor installations. Features include a light-sensitive 6MP day and night sensor, and MxAnalytics video analysis tools, which can be used for depicting customer movements in sales rooms, for example.
The company has also invested in Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR). They carry heavy loads, helping companies to comply with ISO 27001 certification needs while protecting the health and safety of workers.
Ip sees such technologies being repurposed as part of a total solution for Hong Kong companies. He offered the example of a typical warehouse.
“MOBOTIX can then be your warehouse security guard monitoring your entire environments for intruders. Meanwhile, Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) can work in warehouses 24/7 to load and unload heavy equipment,” said Ip, highlighting that such “dark warehouses” are already offering new savings and efficiencies to companies.
"It depends on the company's needs. More importantly, we can combine different types of technology to help companies solve their pain points or improve their customer business," Ip added.
Reimagining a digital future
Konica Minolta sees HIT providing companies of all sizes with a robust framework for future growth. It also allows the Konica Minolta team to use its experience and expertise to tailor specific digital transformation strategies for different companies.
More importantly, HIT positions Konica Minolta as a total solutions partner and “create a win-win relationship.” “Our HIT strategy will allow companies to focus on their core competencies while working with Konica Minolta for its human, ideas and technology needs,” said Ip.
Such relationships will grow in importance as companies look to become more agile and take advantage of new market opportunities through initiatives such as the Greater Bay Area.