You probably already know that organizations stand to gain a huge advantage by undergoing a digital transformation, but pulling it off in your own company is not so simple.
Just trying your best is not always enough to pull off this complex task.
An estimated 85% of attempted digital transformations are considered to have failed.
Don’t let this high failure rate scare you off the idea entirely – even partially successful digital transformation attempts often yield some kind of positive results, and you can always try again.
What you should take from this statistic is that it’s important to make this change in a comprehensive and nuanced way. This means understanding exactly what you need to accomplish your goals and using the right approach to get there.
What Digital Transformation Requires
There are four main factors that will make or break any attempt to get a company under a true digital regime 👇
Any undertaking needs a strong leader at its head if it’s going to succeed.
In the case of company-wide changes like digital transformation, there should actually be multiple leaders involved.
All senior staff members from the CEO and down should be fully on board with the changes being made and be able to answer any questions that anyone might have about the process as it goes.
On top of this, it’s best to have at least one person who is officially in charge of the transition and can manage its development on a daily basis.
Having a clear idea of where you want to go and what specific things you want to achieve gives your digital transformation a set of goals to shoot for.
Your vision should be company-specific and be informed directly by what your future users have to say.
This includes customers, employees, partners, and anyone else who will be interacting with your systems once they are in place.
Ask them about the problems they are having and what kind of digital solutions they would like to see added to help with those issues.
The things they tell you should inform your plans for your organization’s digital development.
Everything that digital transformation is meant to do – from customer experience improvements to staff efficiency upgrades – depends on data.
Without it, none of the changes you make will be able to perform the way you want them to. Your data must be extensive and of excellent quality if you are to be successful in your transition to digital methods. You also need to make sure that it stays that way over time by giving it regular upkeep.
It needs to be one of your top business priorities from here on out and have the budget and dedicated man hours to reflect that importance.
Digital features are worthless if they don’t get used or end up frustrating the people who do try to use them – you should never aim to create something flashy instead of something useful.
Monitoring the level of engagement you receive with all digital improvements you make is critical to ensuring that you end up with a digital infrastructure that is worth the investment.
Any aspect that is underperforming in this regard should be reviewed and tweaked as soon as possible in order to get it closer to the performance it was originally designed to achieve.
These four focus areas should help you to shape your digital transformation strategy into something that will propel your business forward instead of letting it stumble along the way.
Turning Digital Principles Into Action
Having the four major elements of successful digital transformation in mind is a great start, but you may still not be sure how to apply these core ideas in a concrete way.
Our 7 tips will give you some more specific ideas about how you can get your digital transformation in motion:
Don’t Focus on Just Your Tech
Digital transformations are about more than just the tech you choose. It doesn’t matter if you have the latest and greatest systems on the market – what matters is what you can do with the resources you have.
You should be giving much more consideration to your workforce and their digital abilities beyond just handing them quality digital tools;
Not everyone will be comfortable with your new digital paradigm at first, but your support will go a long way toward helping them make the adjustment.
If you take the time to make sure everyone working in your organization understands what you are doing and knows how to use the new digital infrastructure properly, however, they will quickly become adept and efficient users.
Keep Putting Your Customers First
All business is founded on keeping your customers happy.
Your digital transformation should also be focused on your customers’ needs.
Getting your processes and technology in line with what the people who are buying from you are looking for will help you to provide more value to them through the entire buying process.
Doing this requires you to get a good understanding of your customers and their habits.
For instance, one-third of the sales that were processed in the United States on Black Friday 2018 were made by smartphone and another tenth were made by tablet. All together, that means that a little less than half of the sales in that peak period were made through mobile means.
A company that doesn’t have a website and online storefront that is optimized for mobile is ignoring the needs of these customers, many of whom are Millennials in their prime spending years.
This also signals that a shift to digital marketing over the traditional kind might be a wise move. Take your cues from your customers in this way and you’re sure to better sales numbers.
Realize That This Is a Journey, Not a Project
Digital transformation is not something you can just stop once you’ve started, and nor is it something that has any definite end point.
New technologies are undoubtedly spreading more quickly than they ever have before: the mobile phone became a commonplace household item 6.25 times faster than its predecessor, the landline telephone. That’s an impressive jump, but things move even faster when it comes to software and other intangible technologies.
Rest assured, further disruption is inevitable: innovations like machine learning have the potential to revolutionize every aspect of business once a few more breakthrough developments are made.
When something new comes along, you’ll want to implement it as soon as possible to make sure that you’re keeping up with your peers. Staying alert to what’s going on with technology will give you the advance notice you need to make this happen. Never take your eyes off the future and you’ll never be caught by surprise regarding emerging trends.
Create a Digital Roadmap to Guide You
When it comes to digital transformations, we can learn a lot from how start-ups are born. These fledgling enterprises are 16% more likely to succeed when the entrepreneur writes out a formal business plan, especially when the business in question is particularly complicated or ambitious.
This is because planning things out allows you to set tangible goals and envision the steps you need to take to reach them.
If you do the same for your digital efforts, you’ll experience the same benefits. Take some time to make a plan for your organization’s digital future.
What functions would you like to be able to integrate into your business? What processes can you streamline? How soon do you think you think you’ll be able to achieve these things?
Knowing where you want to go will help you to figure out which up-and-coming technologies are most important for you to pay attention to as they emerge, and having a firm timeline for your progress will help to keep you from becoming complacent.
That’s an understandable reaction to something that is largely uncharted territory for many – it’s always uncomfortable when you step into the unknown for the first time. Moreover, digital transformation requires not only patience and skill but plenty of financial investment as well.
Many leaders are skittish about pouring so many resources into an initiative that they have never personally witnessed the effectiveness of, even if there are plenty of statistics available to back it up.
Even if you are experiencing such fears, it’s important that you embrace your digital transformation initiative with no reservations and give it everything it needs to succeed.
That means providing ongoing support for it in addition to financing the initial start-up expenses. The costs of ancillary services like contact data quality management might seem like frivolous expenditures at first glance, but they are actually necessary expenditures for a fully digital organization that wants to achieve its true potential.
Communicate Early, Often, and With Your Entire Team
Digital transformation is a team effort. If anyone resists the initiative or is unable to help with it because they do not understand what is going on, progress will not happen as swiftly as it could.
That’s why you want to make sure that every member of your team is kept informed each step of the way.
This might sound like it will take a lot of time, but it doesn’t have to if you’re organized about it.
The key is to delegate some of the work to others. Hold regular meetings with a core group of senior staff in your company about what’s happening on the digital front, then have them spread the news to others around them.
This is proven to be an effective tactic – digital transformations are 6.3 times more likely to be successful when senior leaders in each of a company’s departments made sure that the entire staff was kept informed about the project in a consistent fashion.
Consistently Evaluate and Make Adjustments
No big business endeavour is ever perfect on the first try. No matter how well you start out with your digital transformation efforts, there are bound to be places where you could optimize and make improvements. These areas will become more obvious to you as you go along and collect more statistics and information about the progress you are making.
- Have you achieved the boost in process efficiency that you were after?
- Have you been able to perform the level of deep analytics you wanted?
- Is your revenue going up as expected?
- What does your customer feedback indicate about what’s working for them and what they would still like to see added or changed?
All of these things will tell you how well you’re doing right now and where you could still stand to do better when compared to what others have achieved. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do as well as your average competitor, so if you’re not hitting the benchmarks you expected to reach, you should consider investigating the reasons for that discrepancy and addressing them.
Don’t Give Up: Successful Digital Transformation Is In Your Sights
It’s normal to struggle with digital transformation in a business context: there are so many different factors to consider that it can never be a completely smooth transition.
You need to be strategic about the choices you make during this process and be prepared to keep forging ahead even when you struggle. Keep reading up on the best techniques and trying your best to make things work, and eventually, your organization will end up with the effective digital infrastructure it needs.
We’ll have more to say about effective use of business data in our next post, so remember to check back for that later on.
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