Where there was a space for conversation amongst businesses in 2020, digital transformation dominated – and with good reason: digital-first companies are 64% more likely to achieve their business goals than their peers, while executives say the top benefits of digital transformation are improved operational efficiency, faster time to market and the ability to meet customer expectations.
Add the rocket fuel of a pandemic to the already convincing argument for embracing the digital revolution, those who’ve yet to implement proposed changes, let alone start planning, could now be more than a few steps behind their competitors.
However, digital transformation can be overwhelming both as a concept and in practice, particularly if you don’t know where to begin or where you’d like to end up.
Seeing every glass as half-full, we at Creative believe it’s never too late to be hot on the heels of digital change in a way that is digestible and achievable. To help you on your journey, we’ve put together 5 ways to better understand what transformation means for you, how to make the process as manageable as possible, and give your digital transformation every chance of success in 2021.
1 – Start at the end
The prospect of digital change within your company affords you an opportunity to reshape operations and processes so that they truly work for you, your people and your customers. And so, the very first step on any digital transformation journey is to understand exactly what this looks like for your business.
What could you achieve with the right systems in place? How would you do things differently? Do you have a specific goal in mind?
For Amazon, this was an intuitive, easy-to-use app and a straightforward returns process. For Uber, a service that set “the world in motion” and provided customers with a memorable experience.
Be it improving customer service, increasing the speed and quality of reporting or improving productivity of remote workers, answering these questions will not only help you identify what your key objectives are, but will establish a clear direction for your transformation and provide a metric for measuring success.
Meanwhile, industry-specific case studies and webinars are excellent ways of a) seeing emerging technologies in action, b) learning how other businesses are making their digital transformations a success, and c) helping you to feel confident in your transformation ideas and proposal. After all, data doesn’t lie, and webinars can give you an opportunity to discuss your questions with experts directly.
From applied machine learning to advanced analytics, you’ll become familiar with those tech buzzwords that are shaping a new business environment.
“Most of the executives I talk to are still very much focused on digital largely as a way to do “more of the same,” just more efficiently, quickly, cost-effectively. But I don’t see a lot of evidence of fundamentally stepping back and rethinking, at a basic level, “What business are we really in?”
John Hagel III
Former Co-Chairman, Deloitte LLP Center for the Edge
2 – Involve your people
A successful digital transformation journey involves the whole workforce, not just the senior management team, and with 63% of executives ranking cultural challenges as the biggest impediments to transformation efforts, you’re going to want your people on board.
No matter how great the benefits are to an individual’s role, if a change initiative is not managed correctly, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for your people to become as invested in your vision as you are and your transformation journey is as good as over before you’ve even begun.
Mitigate this risk by involving your people in the transformation process from the very beginning, supported by some basic change management principles.
Ask them to consider and feed back how digital change and emerging tech might add value to their roles and streamline their responsibilities – their observations may surprise you and offer insight you hadn’t previously considered. They’re also likely going to be the people using these new systems and software the most, so their input is invaluable to ensuring the success of your transformation efforts.
Additionally, this open dialogue between levels and departments within the organisation is a double win: not only does it ensure a complete overview of how digital change will impact your business at every level, it also fosters an environment for discussion, collaboration and a safe space for innovative thinking (you’re going to need this later).
Simply put, the more input your employees have on the ways in which their roles are digitally transformed, the more they’ll understand and see the benefits.
3 – Strategy is key
Just as you wouldn’t start a business without a business plan, or begin a journey to a place you’ve never been without a map, digital transformation of your company should not be without a considered strategy leading the way.
Once the objectives have been established, the next step is to plan exactly how they’re going to be achieved with the understanding that digital transformation is not a static solution.
Identifying the most critical business processes to undergo digital change will allow you to plot an appropriate initial course of action, taking into account costs, necessary resources and a suitable time frame. Once you’ve successfully implemented it for one process, however, your digital roadmap must be flexible enough to allow you to return to the very beginning with a different process. This approach means that for your company, digital transformation becomes a way of continuous improvement, not just a phase of change.
“Think of digital transformation less as a technology project to be finished than as a state of perpetual agility, always ready to evolve for whatever customers want next, and you’ll be pointed down the right path.”
VP and Head of Platform, Google Cloud
4 – Don’t just update the technology: update the process
Updating the technology without also reviewing and updating the systems around it means you’ll continue to make the same mistakes, just more quickly. Save yourself trouble in the long run by considering how your other processes make the most of your new solutions.
This is where the open dialogue created between all levels in the organisation in section 2 comes into play: your new culture of discussion, innovation and creativity will help develop and drive new workplace practices that are faster, leaner, more engaged and not only complement, but fully harness, the powerful tech under the hood.
5 – Partner up
And finally, a digital change agenda shared is a digital change agenda halved.
Finding the right company to implement new software, upgrade systems and facilitate your digital transformation is crucial to ensuring that the process is manageable, continuous, and supported by a wealth of experience and expertise that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
Working on an ongoing basis with a company also means they understand every facet of your business – it’s strengths, weaknesses, processes and systems – just as you do to become a reliable, trusted adviser on your transformation journey.
From identifying new areas of your business to optimise, to offering advice on strategy and next steps, your relationship with and the role of these tech solution experts in the success of your digital transformation efforts is invaluable.
However you decide to digitally transform your business, the most important piece of advice we can impart is to make sure that everything you do feeds into your goals. And remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to transformation: it’s about what’s right for your business.
Until next time,
Creative has been streamlining business processes for more than 30 years: from the TV & film industry to the Not for Profit sector and beyond, we’ve formed lasting relationships with our clients by supporting them on their digital transformation journeys.
To learn more about our services and solutions that could help to transform your business, contact us today.