Building a Digital Transformation Strategy: Everything you Should Know
While the term “digital transformation” essentially means to integrate digital technology into all areas of a business, the truth is – it’s so much more than that! Let’s be real, the whole world has been online for a while now. A decade ago it still might have been new for businesses to digitize their processes or move to the cloud. Today, that’s the bare minimum that every company aiming for success needs to do! A more appropriate interpretation of the phrase “digital transformation” would be – the utilization of digital technology to fundamentally change how a business operates and how it delivers value to its customers.
Basically, it’s how you use technology to change, adjust, and improve your business processes to reposition yourself on the market in today’s digital economy. If you’re still not sure exactly what that means, that’s okay, many many business owners don’t either. Because it can mean a lot of things. Because each company will use a unique digital transformation strategy suited to its own needs and goals for the future. And more than simply what kind of new technology is being implemented, it’s the approach – the game plan – that matters most. So, let’s take a deeper dive into how to build a digital transformation strategy – the why, the what, and the how?
How to build a digital transformation strategy?
Where to start?
To know where you want to go, you first need to recognize where you’re at right now. So before starting work on your digital transformation roadmap, you need to analyze the current state of your business, which involves:
- mapping out your business processes/operations/resources and your organizational structure,
- assessing your company work culture,
- evaluating your employees’ skillsets.
Once you have everything laid out and inspected, you can pinpoint the problem areas as well as the opportunities for growth.
Many businesses mistakenly skip this step thinking they know exactly what needs to be done. Some might find such an undertaking overwhelming and decide to take a stab in the dark and hope something works out. Others can simply choose to implement new technology because “everybody else is doing it”. The best outcome would then be improved operational efficiency. On the other hand, the worst and often more probable outcome of such unplanned business development is frustration, complication, and wasted resources.
Identify your goals
Conducting a thorough analysis as outlined above will give you the clarity you need to make strategic decisions about your digital processes and resources, as well as make sure you stay on track with your new business development plan! In essence, now its’s time to define your end goals. What do you hope to achieve with your digital transformation strategy? Remember, this is a long-term decision you are making, so it’s more than okay to think big! But, there’s a catch!
Don’t let your ambitions wander off too much that you are left with only vague initiatives. It’s important to set a very clear set of objectives and stick to them. Setting up too many priorities at the same time will make it difficult to assess the progress of the digital transformation strategy and therefore make it harder to hit the target objectives.
Create a plan of action
Now that you know your goals, you need to draft a roadmap of how to reach them. Outline how you will get from the current to the desired situation. This might include reframing infrastructure, training employees or recruiting new talent, transitioning to a new development process, etc. Your plan should plot the most important points such as main priorities, intermediate objectives, key players, and a timeline with milestones and benchmarks. Your digital transformation strategy roadmap should be adaptable and evolve with your business and the changing priorities.
Without a coherent operational course, not much can be achieved. The staff may end up over-working without producing any significant results, only leading to burned out and demotivated employees. Ultimately, without a project program, the whole thing will end up being a waste of time, effort, and investment.
Advantages of digital transformation
So, at this point, you may be thinking that a lot of work goes into finding the purpose for digital transformation and designing a strategy for it. Is it actually worth the time, money, and effort? Well, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of digital transformation!
A digital transformation strategy usually involves streamlining processes through automation. A number of tasks such as customer data collection, invoicing, payroll, procurement, etc. could easily be shifted from manual to automated, thus saving a company lots of time and therefore money. Furthermore, this will boost employee satisfaction and productivity as they no longer need to spend so much of their work time on monotonous tasks, but rather find a more meaningful use for their skills. Thus, team members are empowered to work more efficiently, as well as the company as a whole.
One of the greatest benefits of digital transformation is the ability to track metrics such as process effectiveness, funnel conversion rates, customer lifetime value, customer satisfaction and many others. Not only is the data nicely organized and easily accessible, but it also lets businesses base their decisions on data. The insights gained through analyzing that data during digital marketing efforts allows businesses to optimize their strategies and processes. With the right management and decision-makers, companies can have a strategic plan and an easier road to a higher ROI.
Enhanced customer experience
Providing a positive customer experience is one of the most important things you can do as a company. While you wouldn’t have a company without your product, you also wouldn’t get far without good customer service which is guaranteed to retain your clients and gain new ones. Digitized companies can offer customers a much clearer view of available services and products, remaining inventory, and the purchasing process itself. A digitized system means a connected system – information on the product life cycle is easy to follow, so employees (and therefore customers) can find out the status of an order at any given time.
Another meaningful concept for improving customer experience is personalization. This can not be achieved on a large scale without digital transformation. Digital technology provides valuable insight into customer historical data such as purchases, interactions, interests, etc. Using this information companies can personalize the customer experience thus, in turn, increasing profitability.
New skill development
Introducing new technologies inherently involves the need to acquire new skills and knowledge to master them. Digital transformation promotes skills like improved digital literacy, data analytics, continuous improvement through lean and agile methods, and many others. When you invest in employee development, they are likely to feel more motivated and valued by the business, leading to higher employee retention rates. By creating or attracting such a skilled workforce, your company can gain a better competitive advantage in the market.
What can go wrong?
Even the best-laid plans can run into problems. Some common risks when developing and implementing a digital transformation strategy are:
- Resistance to change – it can come from the leadership, staff, or customers, and can quickly derail your whole strategy. Collaborate with stakeholders early in the process on ways to make the transitions easier.
- Lack of expertise. Make sure to seek out partners with the relevant skills and experience for executing your digital transformation strategy. Remember that digital transformation is a cross-functional endeavour involving multiple departments, so all teams should have all the necessary information at all times.
- Failure to apply data. Compiling data without actually using it is a pointless endeavour. Make sure to put in place processes that will take full advantage of the collected data to pull ahead of the competition.
Technologies that drive digital transformation
So far, we’ve discussed the process of creating a digital transformation strategy, the advantages to it, as well as the potential pitfalls. But what are the technologies that drive digital transformation?
- Artificial Intelligence can be utilized to anaylze business data and create personalized experiences, predictive maintenance, process automation, and more.
- Internet of Things devices connect people and equipment, gathering and processing huge amounts of data which enable process automation (examples: voice assistants, fitness watches, household appliances, etc.)
- Cloud Computing systems like Google Drive, Office 365, Slack, and others offer flexibility and scalability for businesses who want to grow.
- Virtual and Augmented Reality offer more immersive opportunities to businesses and their customers such as: remote assistance, training simulations, 360 walkthrough, etc.
- Mobile Applications are being utilized more and more by businesses across all industries in order to offer their products and services to a wider audience.
- Automation and Robotics are increasingly being implemented for automatizing everything from administrative work, all the way to production creating highly connected Industry 4.0 factories.
- Blockchain can give companies across industry sectors the ability to use a secure distributed ledger that can record transactions between multiple parties securely and transparently.
How do I know if I need a digital transformation strategy?
Some of the signs that your business is in need of a digital transformation strategy are:
- Your current technical processes are inefficient or insufficient.
- You can’t find the data you need.
- You want to scale your business.
- You need to boost interest in your product/service.
- Rising operational costs.
- Poor customer support
If you have only one of these issues, it is worth considering doing something “radical”. For many, digital transformation can be scary, but if you take the leap, I assure you it will be worth it!
And if you need help, our team at Redvike is here to support you and cooperate with you on creating a successful digital transformation strategy!