There is no doubt in our minds that the adoption of digital technologies by companies has been accelerated by three to four years due to the pandemic.
They have implemented new digital processes to enable business continuity, improve operations, and satisfy customers across multiple domains, even when their employees and vendors are working remotely.
However, according to a McKinsey survey, only 11% of business executives feel their current business models will be economically viable by 2023.
And to stay competitive in this new, post-COVID environment requires new strategies and practices that can only be fulfilled by transforming digitally. No wonder 64% of companies are looking to build digital businesses, not just to survive but also thrive!
If your company also wants to disrupt and needs nifty tips to embark on a digital journey, this article is for you. But first, let us understand the basics.
Digital transformation defined
Digital transformation refers to the process of utilizing digital technologies to develop or modify existing business processes, upgrade the company culture and deliver better customer experiences.
Digital transformation demonstrates how a company leverages people, processes, and technology to add new revenue streams, driven by the ever-evolving customer expectations around products or services.
For companies building traditional goods, transforming digitally could look like building a mobile application to capture a larger market share. In other words, digital transformation enables more value or perceived value created through software.
When do you need digital transformation?
Signs that say your company requires a digital transformation would not scream, “you must transform digitally” or “why are you not on Instagram?” but instead could manifest as a diverse set of business problems:
1. Dwindling business prospects
You are not getting the referrals you used to get because of the lack of online presence. Today, referrals are increasingly shared on social media, email and third-party apps. If you are not equipped for that, you miss out on opportunities.
2. Poor decision-making
If you dig past the surface to understand why your business is not growing the way it should, you will realize that you do not have the proper visibility into data to make good decisions. Here is a fact: many SMBs are built on a patchwork of applications, not in sync with each other.
This misalignment causes poor visibility into business data to arrive at sound decisions. It would be best if you fixed your technology infrastructure to facilitate sharing and analyzing data, and you can do so by developing a digital transformation strategy.
3. Lack of departmental collaboration
For instance, if your marketing and sales teams work in silos, this will lead to more cross-departmental complaints. Therefore, getting your data out of the shadows and in front of whoever needs it is necessary. Making business data accessible across departments is the core of every digital foundation.
4. Your technology systems feel old
If your employees are asking for features they access from consumer apps, that is something to ponder upon. For instance, spreadsheets are great, but you should not use them for everything. Weave modern business apps within your workflows for data sharing, serving specific needs, and offering user-friendly experiences across desktop and mobile.
Five steps for transforming your business digitally
Digital transformation is a formidable task for any business, and it can seem a bit difficult to roll it out without a solid strategy. You have to invest tremendous amounts of time, energy and money, and maintain solid momentum from beginning to end.
There is a lot to plan, from small-scale digital transformations such as eCommerce deployments and website upgrades to large-scale projects such as ERP deployment. Here are the five steps you can take to digitize your business successfully:
1. Define your vision
Start by internally assessing your problem areas, for example, workflows where you experience difficulties, or skill or technological gaps. Even before you list the tools and resources you require for the job, you must define the goals you want to achieve with digital adoption.
For insurance, it could be you want to focus on building an incredible onboarding experience for your customers rather than prolonged employee training. Once you finalize your end goal, create a comprehensive action plan with clear-cut steps.
This detailed blueprint will help you decide the processes, systems and people you need at every step and design potential workflows.
Oftentimes, the C-suite thinks they are all on the same page when, in reality, each executive has their own set of priorities. That is why it is essential to successfully sync their thinking and goals to carry out digital transformation.
A well-defined vision would lead the COO to prioritize reducing digital product development costs and the CIO to focus on optimizing cross-departmental communications.
A pro tip is to think of the big picture and work your way backward to clarify the smaller tasks you would need to complete for your company’s digital transformation.
2. Gather resources and functional expertise
Your team must have basic digital skills and literacy to transform your business digitally. Only then can you expect them to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies. And if their knowledge is limited, it is essential to train your employees continually.
You do not cover your digital transformation journey alone at the end of the day. You must hire or partner with an external group that joins you in this endeavor.
If you have specific teams or employees in your organization that can bring something to the table that you do not have, include them as well.
Having a diverse set of brains can provide much more value in terms of job experience and industry expertise, thereby uncomplicating your digital adoption strategy implementation and helping your business reap more significant benefits in the long run.
3. Choose the right technology
Deploying digital adoption strategies can be an overwhelming task, and if this job is not done right, a lot of money can go down the drain. That is why it is necessary to leverage software expertise to fetch the ROI for your tech stack.
Fasten the time it takes your employees to learn a new software application. Your workforce can interactively learn the job by utilizing step-by-step walkthroughs for effective product adoption.
Top digital adoption platforms such as Pendo offer certain functionalities that can help you improve user experience and make the digital adoption process a lot less complex.
In fact, there are even better Pendo competitors such as Whatfix and WalkMe that offer a range of features such as on-screen guidance, in-app learning and real-time assistance.
More importantly, such platforms are extensively personalized to suit your organizational requirements. Therefore, it is crucial to choose one that best serves your business needs.
4. Create a unified view of the customer
Avoid the misconception that you need to scrap everything and start from scratch when beginning your digital transformation, even if you are transitioning from a network of apps that are actually not connected to each other.
The key is to connect your data and employees to create a unified view of the customer. Once you have that, you will better understand the problems that your customer base faces and personalize the experience that can solve their problems.
Take restaurants as an example. Instead of marketing their food and menus aggressively, they partner with tech companies to optimize how they offer delivery service to their customers who prefer ordering in, especially during the pandemic.
Once you have built bridges between fragmented information, you will be able to mine valuable insights into customer behavior and mine the potential of technologies such as AI. That is the whole point of digital transformation.
5. Prioritize organizational change management
If there is anything in this world that is constant, it is change. Successful businesses worldwide realize that success depends on how well they respond to new opportunities and threats as they emerge. Any digital transformation strategy focuses on managing evolving business needs and the cultural change that comes with those disruptions.
Due to this, change initiatives have become more complicated, going beyond divisions and functions rather than staying confined to silos. They are more globalized than ever, too, often spreading across geographies.
Unfortunately, many businesses put in a lot by going through all the steps mentioned above, yet they do not fully consider how things will operate when the new software is live. User behavior is perhaps the hardest thing to change.
However, unless your employees accept the new digital transformation strategy, including the revised processes and new technologies entirely, with open arms, all of your hard work will prove to go in vain.
A successful digital business accounts for unexpected resistance that comes with any form of organizational change.
Over to you
Developing and executing a digital transformation strategy does not have to be a challenge. Using an appropriate digital adoption platform, you can define your processes and systems in a way that influences consistent employee performance and efficiency across departments. With proper support and expertise, you can adapt to any change and outpace the market.