We’ve all heard about Digital Transformation before – it’s a term touted by many, but what does it really mean?Digital transformation, at its core, is when a business changes its practices to leverage existing and emerging technologies The change integrates new technologies, solutions, services and practices into the workplace, to provide better communication and data on customers and internal activities.
The ever-changing nature of technology means customer service evolves quickly. Therefore, a business must be constantly on the pulse. Digital transformation is not only for the benefit of the customer though – the implementing of new services and solutions is also intended to make work both more flexible and more stable for employees.
The trouble is that ‘Digital Transformation’ can often become a bit of a buzzword for businesses. If they become too fixated on this idea, they may overlook important details – which is why so many digital transformations tend to fail. So why specifically do businesses find it so hard?
1: The focus is only internal
So, you want to fundamentally change operations in your company. Reform and update practices and take your business into the future. It’s a big job. It probably doesn’t make you feel better knowing that directing all focus on updating the internal practices of a business, is one of the ways in which digital transformations fail. People can get so bogged down with the internal stuff, that they forget that the purpose of a digital transformation is also to improve the customer experience. It’s just as important to examine the customer facing practice as it is internal practice.
The upside is that working backwards from the customer experience is the ideal way to develop goals for your transformation and figure out what needs to be changed internally. A successful digital transformation strategy will begin with taking stock of the clients’ needs and satisfaction. To figure out what is working and what needs to be updated, a business should be collecting data on their customer relations. Large scale businesses use customer analytics, data mining, etc. but sending out customer surveys, looking at comments on your website and social media platforms, even collating complaints you may have received is the first step in realising what you hope to achieve with a digital transformation. The customer is always right, after all.
2: It’s not all about technology
Yes, this is counter-intuitive, but new technology itself will not transform a business, in the same way that wearing a new hat on top of your current hat won’t make it any better. This approach risks wasting money and making people think you don’t understand IT – or hats.
True, technology can transform a business. But it must have a purpose. As we said earlier, digital transformation is about becoming more customer-centric and improving the work life of staff, and technology cannot do that on its own. You can’t just introduce new technology and add to people’s work load. You need to go back and review existing processes and practice and figure out how they can be improved. This may involve introducing new IT solutions, but it could be as simple as streamlining existing processes. At the end of the day, digital transformation is about people.
So, we know that to digitally transform our business, we need the will of the people on our side. This is another area where a lot of businesses may fail with their transformation. With new IT solutions come new workflows, new methods, a whole new set of skills and knowledge that staff must learn. The learning curve may be daunting, and without proper incentive, disinterest will be rampant, and can result in a lack of engagement with the new technology.
Firstly, one should know how their employees work best, what motivates them, etc. Then a long-term plan for introducing the new solutions among employees should be figured out. Digital transformations do not end with introduction of new technology. Ongoing training programs around the technology and incentives to use them should be set up in order to motivate employees.
Digital transformations are ongoing affairs, they take time and patience, and therefore you need strong and sustained communication. As touched upon earlier, it can be tiring to learn new solutions, processes, practices, etc. You don’t want to people to lose interest.
So, what are the keys to strong communication surrounding digital transformation? Firstly, there needs to be a crystal-clear vision. With any campaign, rhetoric and jargon can be thrown about. You need a straightforward pitch to reiterate and remind people of. On top of this, you need to be able to communicate exactly how the transformation will improve jobs. Having this clear vision makes it easier to illustrate a clear path for the business to follow on this road to transformation.
Moreover, seeing as digital transformations can take a long time, and progress can be incremental, keeping everyone in the company on the same page in terms of goals achieved and milestones reached is important for morale.
Hopefully now you can see what we mean by Digital Transformation is easy (and essential) if you have a clear plan and purpose. Don’t make the mistake of thinking its all about new tech, as without people – the technology alone won’t reach its full potential.