Digital transformation is more than a buzzword or a passing trend;
It’s the future!
Despite a relatively slow start, these initiatives have been gaining momentum recently.
Only 34% of companies currently say that they have already undergone a digital transformation, but 31% planned to do so in the next year or so.
As time goes on, it will be increasingly difficult for companies to succeed without making this change to their structure and the way they operate.
However, not everyone is clear on exactly what the term means.
Confusion is one of the big things holding back companies who are lagging behind. You need to understand digital transformation on all of its many levels before you can successfully make this big transition, and there’s no time to lose.
What Is Digital Transformation?
To boil it down to one sentence, digital transformation is process of integrating technology into your business operations. Of course, there’s really much more to it than that.
Many people think that converting to digital within an organization means swapping out your old equipment and stopping there. Just upgrade your computers and software and you’re fine, right?
While it’s tempting to think that things could be that simple, it should come as no surprise to hear that they are not 🙄
The best tech in the world does you know good if you don’t know how to use it. You should certainly make an investment into your equipment as part of your efforts to embrace the digital age, but you’ll also need to know how to work these things and how to productively apply their potential.
Doing this takes much more than just filling out an order to a supplier. You’ll need to create strategies and practices that take advantage of the resources you have and allow your customers to do the same.
Things like excellent IT support, detailed data collection, and ongoing data quality management all become much more important in a digital organization.
These things make up your digital infrastructure and make all your projects and techniques possible. You’ll also need to set up leadership that encourages much more communication between different departments and isn’t afraid of forging ahead into largely unknown territory.
55% of companies in the process of going digital say that they need leaders who can understand the complexity of this process, set aside the fear of failure and draw the different parts of a company together to cooperate towards this common goal.
If you do things right, your efforts should touch every part of your business.
Improving Customer Experience Is Just Step One
Even those who understand that there is more to making the leap to digital than just investing in upgrades sometimes don’t grasp all of the many dimensions of this practice.
There’s another common misconception out there that digital transformation refers only to incorporating new features that improve the customer experience side of your operations.
There’s no denying that this focus is a big part of a digital transformation and should be given the amount of focus it deserves.
Things like data-driven personalization are now normalized parts of the browsing and shopping process, and no less than 90% of consumers say that they expect a company to have an accessible online portal for their customer service operations; these are just accepted parts of doing business in today’s world.
You can’t overlook the power of going digital in this area because your customers themselves certainly won’t overlook their absence.
However, customer experience enhancements are only one aspect of the improvements that a digital transformation can bring.
There are actually far more rippling effects of a transformation that never make it to the customer-facing parts of the company but that can still provide exceptional benefits behind the scenes.
You can use today’s technology to streamline your operations and make your valuable internal information take over some of the work for you.
Going Digital Benefits Employees, Too
Enhancing the employee experience is one of the biggest goals of a successful digital transformation.
The right technology can help you lighten your workers' task load immensely, especially when it comes to tedious tasks that do not require the expertise for which you hired them. You can easily automate many of the back-office processes that are needed to help keep the business running but that few people enjoy doing.
Things like simplified workflows that are updated in real time as work progresses also help to keep everyone on the same page and to allow different team members to seamlessly pick up where their coworkers left off if needed.
Even just having an increased amount of data available comes in handy when someone finds themselves needing to look up something company-specific like last month's sales records. Instead of having to manually sort through those and identify weaknesses and trends, you can instead instantly compile a report that tells you everything you need to know.
Improvements like this can revolutionize the way that your employees think about their work.
Instead of wasting their time with administrative and bookkeeping tasks that software can easily handle, they can instead concentrate on doing what they do best.
Whether that means interacting with customers, devising new strategies, perfecting products or simply making sure that everything is running smoothly, your employees are sure to appreciate the chance to focus on their strengths.
Not only are they likely to feel more satisfied and motivated under these conditions, but word of your stimulating work environment is sure to spread and attract even more high-quality applicants to your business.
It's these ancillary benefits that make it financially worthwhile for you to invest in your employees' happiness.
Statistics suggest that worker sentiments are tightly connected to a company's success, with companies who go out of their way to improve the employee experience in their organizations enjoying up to four times the average level of profit.
As great as digital transformation promises to be for your staff, however, you should never discount the idea that some people may fear the consequences of the change.
In a typical digital transformation initiative, a little less than one-third of employees fret about the possibility that they may lose their jobs. Given the extensive changes to their workload and their overall role, you can understand their concerns.
This is one of the main reasons why it’s important for your company’s leaders to take a unified stance during these projects and clearly communicate what they are working toward and what the expected consequences of that change will be.
Going digital should be seen as a good thing that will make everyone's lives easier within your workplace. If you can get everyone on board, you’d be astounded by how much you can achieve.
What It Means to Be Digital Is Always Changing
One important thing about digital transformation that is sometimes forgotten is that it’s not something you can just do once and be done with forever after that.
It’s a process that must be started and continued over time if it’s going to have any chance of making a lasting impact on your organization. This is because tech itself is constantly evolving and becoming bigger and better than it was even in the relatively recent past.
Companies who don’t keep up with what is happening will inevitably get left behind.
To get a better idea of what we mean, think about what your own digital life looked like ten or so years ago. Chances are good that it was very different from what it looks like now.
You probably spend much more time online and on devices in general now, but to look at something more specific, you may not have even owned a smartphone.
After all, in 2011, only 35% of Americans owned one. As of 2019, 81% of Americans have one of these devices and many of them use it as their primary tool for accessing the internet; similar stats exist regarding populations all over the developed world.
Smartphone use is even growing rapidly in developing countries now.
This soaring rate of adoption has forced companies to take mobile viewing into account when setting up their websites, customer service tools and marketing activities, something they never had to do before. Brands that don’t do this now look old-fashioned and miss out on many potential customers who might have come to them through this channel if only they had had the opportunity.
The exact scope of a true digital transformation currently changes nearly every year, and will probably continue to shift at a similar or perhaps even faster pace in the decades to come.
Being a proper digital organization right now means being aware of that fact and working to keep abreast of the new developments that are always happening in the field of technology.
We have many predictions circulating about the direction in which technology will go in the near future, but ultimately, no one knows what kind of new practices and devices will emerge or what kind of business improvements they will make possible.
You’ll have to understand, seek out and adopt these new innovations if you want to have any chance of standing up to your peers as the years go on. That in turn takes a lot of work, investment and commitment. It’s no small task and it may sometimes seem easier to just carry on doing things as you always have, but it’s imperative that you keep up with the times. Getting truly modern adaptive digital initiatives in place will pay off handsomely in the end.
Some Final Stats About Digital Transformation
If you’re still not totally sure of what to think of digital transformation, here are a few facts to help you better understand what it is and what you can expect from it:
- You may not see the results of a successful transformation right away – 39% of executives feel that they will get the most out of their new digital paradigm in 3 to 5 years. Expecting immediate results is unrealistic, but sticking it out is worth it and will get you where you want to be.
- You can’t just stick to one or two platforms when you’re going digital – 72% of customers expect companies to have full knowledge of their purchase history regardless of the channel through which they are interacting with that brand (phone, the website, email, etc.).
- You won’t necessarily need to spend extra money to do this – 39% of leaders in top-ranking companies plan to fund their digital initiatives with money they will be reallocating from other parts of their budget. Remember, this is supposed to be a transformation, not an expansion; you’re supposed to be replacing old practices with more efficient ones, so your company’s size and expenses shouldn’t change too much.
- It’s a time-sensitive issue – Back in 2018, 85% of company decision-makers feared that they only had 2 years to get their digital conversions and initiatives up and running before they would fall too far behind to ever catch up. It’s never too late to take action, but the sooner you do it, the easier and more effective it will be.
Adapting to Digital Change Is Not Optional
When you truly understand what a digital transformation is and what it can do for both your workers and your customers, it’s hard to say it’s not worth the time or the investment.
It’s an inevitable change that your organization will have to go through at some point; the only thing you really have control over is when it happens and how much you’ll be able to profit from that early lead.
Getting started right now is the best thing you can do to help ensure that your company prospers in this new digital age.
Our next post will discuss more of the specific ways in which a business can benefit from getting their digital side in order, information which should make it even more clear that it will pay to take action now.
Remember to check back for that at a later date or join us for more tips and tricks about some of the other things you can do to bolster your business with good data.