Innovation is a brilliant thing. Businesses can and do achieve new levels of success when they implement new technology, and we’re lucky to live in a world where we see advances and inventions rolled out on a daily basis.
But if you asked yourself what it actually means to transform your business digitally, would you be able to confidently respond? Chances are it’s unlikely, because it can be hard to pinpoint what you need to do to put digital transformation into action.
Do you want to take advantage of new technology which can help boost and improve your current processes and better your customer’s experience? So many high-profile businesses fail in their transformation efforts, due to a number of varying factors. This can include the economy, not being culturally aware of your business and just how desirable your products or services will be once you launch them.
Tailored innovation approach
With so much choice, it can be difficult to align new innovations with your business goals, and know which technology can help to aid your growth and future success. Digital transformation is not one-size-fits-all, yet so many online guides relay it like that.
Let’s look at an example, a business we will call Business X.
Business X is an education provider that provides professional courses and has thousands of regular users searching for apprenticeships and relevant courses. Business X wants to keep improving, but doesn’t want to eliminate the appeal of its easy-to-use website, expert webinars and personal customer service. For example, if they automated the live chat with a bot to allow for more time to answer questions, it wouldn’t fit with their business model, and it might isolate customers with the impersonal service, even though it would be time-saving.
However, it faces a huge demand for password reset requests each month from users, which causes strain on its IT team and means users are having to wait for their password to be manually reset. By installing automation software with the help of an expert managed service provider, they could alleviate the time pressures from staff, support learning and make the process shorter for both parties. Passwords can be raised and resolved in a matter of minutes so users can get back to work as quickly as possible with minimal delays.
Ultimately, Business X is doing what is best for them to improve, without losing their key business model which is its great customer service.
Turning digital is not a solution for businesses in itself. It’s vague, it lacks instruction and it’s confusing. Clear, set goals are ideal to make the transformation as smooth and impactful as possible. Keep the solutions that work, but better them, and reinvent processes which can boost timing, satisfaction and efficiency.
How do you set those goals and implement them? Take a look below for more details.
Establish if you need to transform
Look at the below yes/no questions and establish if they are relevant to your business.
Are there processes which are taking an unnecessary amount of time?
Are your competitors offering more than you technologically?
Are there new processes that you want to introduce?
Are there new services that the industry is talking about that you want to introduce into your service offering?
What do you need to transform?
Strategy is most important for digital transformation, not technology. Once you have established that you need to transform, you need to create a strategy that anticipates what your customer wants and helps you to integrate individual technologies into your business. As a Deloitte report says, “The ability to digitally reimagine the business is determined in large part by a clear digital strategy supported by leaders who foster a culture able to change and invent the new.”
Take a look at the following questions which will help you establish problems and focus on the best way to solve them with technology:
What processes are taking up too much time?
What services are the most popular? How can we improve them?
What services are the least popular? How can we improve them?
What technology is available to my business?
What technology can I afford?
What resources are available?
Is there a need for me to hire more people?
Which of our services already do well?
Which of our services need an improvement?
What new services are being rolled out in the industry?
What are our competitors doing?
By answering these questions, you can predict what the customer will want, what your employees will want, how you can act on it, what resources you need, and ultimately create a digital transformation process that is aligned to your business.
Execution is everything
Once you have established the problems you want to tackle and the technology you are going to implement, execution comes next. However, many fail at this hurdle.
Create a detailed timeline, and make the decision between a big launch or a phased roll-out which fits with your business processes. A retail store, for example, might have to gradually roll out changes over a few months to save closing. An office, on the other hand, might choose to reinvent its processes by introducing productivity tools such as Office 365 along with installing high-speed internet software to boost this collaboration. In this case, it might be able to allow its employees to work from home to enable the project to be completed faster and avoid any internet outages.
Many people have good intentions to transform, yet they don’t spend enough time or effort with the new technology and therefore don’t gain the maximum benefits. Transformation is all about working smarter for your business, not always faster.
Consider appointing your CTO with the responsibility, or someone else who is relevant. Some companies have even created a digital transformation role. It’s great to have a dedicated person who can encourage other people to embrace and roll out the technology and create a phased roadmap.
Recent statistics also found that 88 per cent of firms are using third-party providers for at least one component of their digital transformation efforts. Partnering with expert consultants and service providers can help with technical aspects of the installations, and alleviates pressures while allowing the business to better deal with customer demands.
Operate a people-first culture
Rolling out digital transformation doesn’t just relate to technology - it’s people, it’s business processes, it’s infrastructure. Make sure that you regularly monitor how people are adapting to the new technology in the testing phase. People are not only your most important asset, but they will be your biggest advertiser when you come to roll it out.
Change isn’t always welcome in company culture, but it’s your job to influence their mindset. Consult them, ask for their feedback, ensure they know the benefits of the changes, and make sure that you don’t dictate to them. Do you have someone in the company who loves the new technology and will be using it in their daily activities? Consider asking them to advocate for it - it will often come across much better to their peers.
Are you ready?
Going digital is not as simple as reinventing a process, and assuming that everyone will take to it. Nike halved the size of its digital division in 2014 after it discontinued its Nike+ Fuelband activity tracker and realised that wearable technology wasn’t fit for its business model.
Whether it’s an internal or external roll-out, you don’t want all of your hard work to go unnoticed or unappreciated. Do a soft launch, and perhaps some market research of how well it’s going.
Don’t just go digital for the sake of it - make sure that you’re ready and it fits with your strategies and values.
Strategy equals success
Digital transformation is nothing new. It has been around for decades and was there when offices changed from typewriter to word processor and fax to email. You do need to be prepared to face obstacles along the way, but a clear strategy and communication can help you to overcome them.
Everyone has digital on their agenda, no matter the industry. Just remember, it’s not about going ahead at full steam - explain the specific actions you’re taking and the results and benefits you expect. Not only will this be easier for your employees and customers to understand, it will also give you a clear goal that you can use to make your digital journey as successful as possible.
James Healey, Managing Director, Air IT
Image Credit: Chombosan / Shutterstock