Digital tools and processes are essential for modern, successful businesses. Traditional business may have been slow to adopt digital technology, but in its defense, no one predicted how fast and comprehensive the digital revolution would be when home computers and the internet first appeared.
Nowadays almost everyone has access to the internet, whether via their computers or, more likely, a mobile device. That includes businesses and organizations of all types and sizes. Digital solutions are providing companies with new innovations and creative ways to tackle old problems more efficiently.
The transformation from traditional to digital work platforms has been disruptive but has also opened new opportunities for businesses. How can you use digital transformation to work more efficiently? Let’s start by understanding what digital transformation means.
What Is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is when digital technology offers solutions to traditional problems, and the digital answer is superior to the traditional method. Digital transformation is a way to get more innovative and take something beyond what a tweak of traditional methods might offer. Digital transformation can be something as narrow as deciding to go paperless, or as wide as impacting entire segments of society, such as governance, mass communications, art, medicine and science.
The impact of a digital transformation on your business is holistic, in that it impacts every aspect of your operation. That includes people and their culture, skills and work capacity. But it also involves process, in that it encompasses workflows, tasks, approaches and methods. Finally, it can even change the physical environment, geography, facilities, equipment and technology.
The influence of having a digital transformation will define and shape your strategic direction, risk appetite and budget, technology enablement, pace of change and business agility.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute’s Industry Digitization index, the potential for digital transformation has only begun to have been tapped. Europe is operating at only 12 percent of its digital potential, with the United States only doing slightly better at 18 percent.
Opportunities and Challenges of Digital Transformation
If digital transformation is the total and overall societal effect of digitalization, as some define it, and we’ve yet to fully take advantage of this, then the potential opportunities are great. Unfortunately, the challenges are also great.
One of of the challenges is the need to be nimble with competitors who are looking to take advantage of the same opportunities as you. But the widespread use of digital technology makes the rewards in terms of revenues and profits high.
Almost every sector has experienced digital transformation, from hospitality management, ecommerce and banking to training, healthcare and others. Yet, according to a study from the MIT Center for Digital Business and Capgemini Consulting, only one-third of companies across the globe have an effective digital transformation program in place.
How Can Digital Transformation Add Efficiencies?
With all the talk about digital transformation, let’s examine some areas where digital transformation can have a real impact on your business.
Between managing emails and searching for information online or through their company’s intranet, employees are spending close to 50 percent of their work time just staying organized, according to a survey by McKinsey. By having employees manage their time better with digital transformation, which can add tools to automatically sort in-boxes and organize internal information, the time savings are potentially huge. Other digital features, such as chat, can also streamline the time it takes to collect data or answer work-related questions.
Customer Experience and Engagement
Knowing your customers, having a line of communications open to them and being able to respond quickly to their queries are all crucial elements to a successful business. Digital transformation can address each of these areas and more, creating a more streamlined channel for customers to engage with your company, which helps your sales, their experience and makes for a more loyal customer base. One such method of digital engagement is conversational commerce, which uses chat bots on websites.
In general, digital transformation doesn’t just improve systems, it makes employees more focused and engaged. Of course, digital transformation isn’t the only way to have more engaged employees, but it can help increase their productivity. A more productive employee is a more satisfied one. And a satisfied employee is a more productive one. Through digital transformation employees can work better, be happier and boost a business’ productivity.
Should I Consult a Digital Transformation Agency?
A digital transformation agency can be a great resource. But how can you know that the agency is right for you? One thing to do is see if they’re just building websites or apps, or if they’re focused on impacting the overall business model or customer experience.
Also, what are their capabilities? An agency is a partner, and you want a partner who can help develop the technological structure to support employees, customers and backend operations.
So, yes, an agency can be helpful. But many agencies themselves need to make a digital transformation. Some are just working a niche or a specialized service. What you’ll want is an agency that has transformed itself into a consulting and service partner to add real value.
How to Apply Digital Transformation
Technology is changing, and that is driving the digital transformation. But if you want to take the driver’s seat, then it’s important to have a strategy. The successful business that embraces digital transformation is not merely adopting individual technologies but is seeking to transform their entire business.
A study by Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review stated, “Maturing digital businesses are focused on integrating digital technologies, such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud, in the service of transforming how their business work…. Less-mature digital businesses are focused on solving discrete business problems with individual technologies.”
Therefore, it benefits the business not to follow an ad-hoc approach but to seek a holistic digital transformation. But what are the steps to make sure your strategy is addressing the whole business when you make that transformation?
Define Overall Objective
To begin, you must know what you’re doing. Rather than grabbing whatever technologies are out there and hoping they can work together, or starting with the idea that you’ll improve, you want to define what it is you want to accomplish before you set forth to do so. This first step is also the most important one. Defining the overall objective will align and drive your transformation.
Design the Experience
Now you want to design the experience for your customer and employees. A digital transformation prioritizes and values user experience while also adding new functions and capabilities. Take your objectives and list them in more detailed goals. This step will help you determine and create the desired experience and make it seamless, intuitive and consistent, while enabling your goals.
Now you have an objective and an outline of where you want to go, so the next step is to discern where you currently are. This will give you an idea of what you’re working with and the starting point and the gaps on the journey of your digital transformation. So, note your existing software, applications and technologies and determine, based on your objectives, what you want to keep, upgrade or discard.
What are the possible solutions needed to meet your objective and fill in the gaps in your technology? To find out, you must engage in a thorough review of possible offerings and solutions from various vendors. You want technologies that have the capabilities and functionalities you demand, but also that the vendors have the history, experience and skills that align with you wants and needs. You also want vendors who have after-sales support and respond in a timely manner if and when problems arise.
Make a Timeline
This is the point when you create a schedule with an actionable plan. Digital transformation takes time, resources and money, so it’s best to plan in stages. You want to carefully plan each stage and every task to make sure that you have the resources and finances available to complete the stages. This project timeline will be shared with stakeholders and everyone in the organization to minimize disruptions in business operations. The plan will also act as a benchmark to compare your actual progress with the planned progress.
Digital transformation is a project, and like any project it requires planning, monitoring and reporting on its progress. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software with the tools to better control your digital transformation. You get a real-time dashboard that lets you track work as it happens and online Gantt charts to schedule the work and share it with your team. See how it can help your digital transformation by taking this free 30-day trial today!