What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation is the integration of digital solutions to enable an organization to improve its customer experience, business and operating processes & culture. It isn’t just about bringing efficiency to outdated businesses; it’s about bringing value to your customers.
While digital transformation has been the core of many thriving businesses, it is no surprise that now when we look around us, we realize that the digital age is truly upon us. In today’s competitive world, regardless of the size of the business, every company must strive to become more agile, faster, and better. Digital transformation is simply the journey to get there.
Cost versus Benefit of Digital Transformation
Many SMEs may associate digital transformation to “investing in modern technology”, thus, believing that the cost of digital transformation is higher than the benefits they will receive. However, digital transformation is not about having the latest/ most expensive technology; it’s about finding the right strategy and technology to empower your business. Including technology, there are five main pillars to digital transformation.
When you persist in using outdated systems, you’re turning a blind eye to hidden risks that could affect the long-term viability of your business.
- Decline in productivity
- Unnecessary product waste
- Duplication of effort
- Employee frustration
- Downtime due to system breakdowns
- High maintenance costs
- Lack of vendor support
- Security issues
- Issues communicating with suppliers
- Inability to leverage newer software
- Expensive, time-consuming workarounds to accommodate changes to the business
- Slow response time to customers
- Loss of your competitive edge
Yes, upgrading your processes and the software that supports them involves some degree of pain. But to quote that old adage, “no pain, no gain.” If you don’t push yourself beyond your comfort zone and modernize your systems, you’ll be left behind your competitors, comfy but irrelevant.
Done improperly, however, it can introduce chaos, confuse customers, and irritate employees.
Done properly, modernizing your legacy systems can increase efficiency, improve the customer experience, and increase employee satisfaction.
The key is to approach systems modernization strategically. As with any aspect of digital transformation, strategy is what separates successful digital initiatives from digital flops.
A simple risk-benefit analysis will enable you to decide when and how to modernize your legacy systems. To calculate the benefits of modernizing a particular process, add up all the costs required to install and implement the system, including training time for employees. Then weigh those against your answers to these questions:
- How many different areas of the business will the modernization impact?
- How many different kinds of efficiency will we gain?
- How much time and money will we save?
- How will the employee experience improve?
- How will the customer experience improve?
Of course, you’ll also want to consider how long it will take to reap a return on your digital investment. To make that time as short as possible, you might want to take a phased approach, modernizing one part of a system at a time.
At the end of the day, the critical question to ask is this: how do the risks of taking action compare with the risks of inaction?
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Example of Digital transformation
Communication channel in a business
Customer expectations today are not the same as they used to be. Standards have been raised way higher. Businesses not only have to match the standards of communication with the customers but also partners and suppliers.
This includes possibilities of including software that can help manage workflow, improve knowledge sharing and increase team collaboration for employees.
For suppliers, it means having software that updates them with payment cycles and orders consistently.
For customers, it means using progressive communication tools like chatbots that can answer any query at any time. The traditional method of communication wherein a customer emails a query and waits for a response is a thing of the past. It’s all fast-paced now.
Five Pillars of Digital Transformation
Now it’s time for digital transformation. This transformation will look different for every business type. It’s not all about integrating digital technology into all areas of a business; it brings business beyond the brick-and-mortar methods of delivering value. Here are the other pillars of digital transformation.
Without a culture that openly embraces change and continuous learning, digital initiatives quickly stagnate.
Successful companies intentionally create a culture that values growth and innovation. They also create materials to help employees learn about new technologies and data-driven decision making.
Technology does not solve business problems; people do. And you’ll need your whole team on board to journey through digital transformation. Be prepared to invest time in developing the knowledge, skills and attitudes you will need for your initiatives to succeed.
Strong and effective processes provide an essential framework on which digital initiatives can build.
Digital “enhancements” will never fix underlying process issues.
A clear vision and specific, measurable results must drive any successful digital transformation.
Strong leadership is key.
Last but not least, the technology you choose should meet the need it is meant to fill. Too often we assume that a solution that worked in one context will be the perfect solution in another, but this is rarely the case.
What are Digital Solutions?
A digital solution is a computerized method of doing something that otherwise would have to be done in another–and often slower and more time-involved–way. To put it another way, we’re talking about using technology to help streamline processes or to solve problems.
As technology has improved, digital solutions have been developed to handle a huge range of tasks and to solve many different kinds of problems. Remember, these aren’t just tools, they are meant to be SOLUTIONS.
Operating your business online, regardless of the type of business you run, has become vitally important. Even if you offer a service that can only be performed in person (like waste removal, construction, or massage therapy to name a very few), your company needs an online presence to meet customer expectations and to draw the traffic needed to help your business grow. Fortunately, there are digital solutions services for businesses like yours.
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Does my business need a digital roadmap?
Brands and businesses need to be nimble, particularly with how they interact with their workforce and the valuable digital data that is being generated on a daily basis. But some of you may be questioning, “does my business really need digital transformation?”
Here are the top three signs that your business may need a digital roadmap or help in managing your digital transformation.
- Lack of understanding of technical best practices, or a slow approach to adhering to them.
It’s often not intentional, but it speaks to the difficulty in staying up to date and aware of changes in the landscape and the tools that are available to help do the job.
When there are no deployment resources, no code management, out of date software and a lack of backups, it’s easy to see why many companies quickly fall behind even when they do luck out and manage to opt for the right tech or toolsets. Aside from the security risks, a haphazard approach can easily squander the budgets and resources devoted to the effort.
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2. A Lack of Information and Reporting Gaps
Digital transformation requires an ongoing focus and the continued accumulation of information that can help you make those informed decisions.
But while the names of common tools may be well known, not everyone can understand about how the right data is collected and how they can best leverage it. Great data is only valuable if it leads to real insights.
With the right approach, you’ll be able to manage your digital transformation at the point of inflection and beyond, making better decisions and incorporating the right tools and processes to really make a difference.
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3. You or your employees are not on the same page
As you introduce game-changing digital solutions/ innovation into your organization, bear in mind that many of your employees will want to cling to the rules of the old game.
To nudge your team out of their comfort zone and get them to buy into your vision, you’ll need to overcommunicate the value of “going digital.”
More specific signs:
- You receive customer complaints or requests for help using the system.
- Employees grumble about inefficiencies, especially duplication of work.
- Technical support from the software vendor has expired or is about to expire.
- Upgrades require significant effort.
- Your system is not mobile-friendly.
- The system crashes at peak times or when it processes a large volume of tasks.
- Your system lags a generation behind systems being used by your competitors.
How much digital transformation is needed?
The quote, ‘The Sky’s The Limit,’ is the very answer to that question. With continuous innovation and upgrading of processes and software, there is no limit to this.
One common misconception many business owners have is that they believe that digital strategy and digital transformations are one and the same thing. This is not correct.
Digital strategy includes using technology to efficiently serve the people involved in the business like customers, suppliers, and so on. Use of social media monitoring, CRM, marketing automation, and others fall under the category of digital strategy.
On the other hand, digital transformation examples involve an intensive procedure to change the complete organizational chart of a business
When and where to start?
Though the time to adapt to digital transformation is now, you still need to start by determining which departments in your business need to go digital-first. Understand which investment in which department will yield you the highest result fast.
The age of ‘Smart’ is here to stay. In the technological and digital sense, ‘Smart’ means the use of technology to increase the growth of your business. It doesn’t, however, mean that you jump in on every technology and software that comes your way.
There are no set guidelines when it comes to digitalization. Albeit, you will still need to research different platforms, applications, and digital transformation solutions, to apply for the needs of your business. While for some businesses it means improving marketing solutions, for others it might be for operations.
The more you delay, the sooner your competition will utilize digital strategies and work more effectively and efficiently. As a business owner, you must create an interlinked business environment that connects the people involved, processes, and technology to create maximum value and minimal waste.
Understand the barriers between your product and final destination and overcome the obstacles.
Work With iTransform
As a business owner, you have challenges of your own. In such times, iTransform can provide digital solutions to two of the major challenges you face with digital transformation, namely securing growth and digitalization.
These two clashing factors can bring on numerous challenges and can affect your core competencies. iTransform can assist you to come to terms with learning moments, laying down digital transformation strategy for your business, and creating a cost-effective atmosphere.