For those following at home, you would know that my passion is helping clients achieve their goals. More recently, my interest has been in assisting clients transform their businesses whether that be implementing something as simple as cloud computing or undergoing a full-scale digital transformation.
In my first podcast for the Digital Economy Hub, I presented on the benefits of cloud computing and what to consider when looking to transition to the cloud. Here, I’ll go into further detail about what digital transformation, what you need to consider as a business when engaging in a digital transformation and how do you best interact with the IT professionals in this area.
Digital transformation can be defined as the acceleration of business activities and processes to take advantage of the opportunities presented by technology. It is not just about disruption or technology. It’s about value, optimising the use of people and having the capability to rapidly adapt when needed, using technology. It is the transformation of an organisation using digital technology to improve the way it performs and serves its customers. It is important to note that a true digital transformation requires the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, resulting in fundamental changes to how the business operates and enhancing the customer experience.
This process has been especially relevant this year, with the impact of COVID-19 forcing business to rethink operations.
When businesses undergo any sort of transformation, there is a lot to consider. This is even more so when undertaking a digital transformation, as it can come with significant cost and risks..
The list of things to consider is endless but can be categorised in three ways:
- Customer/Client Experience
Successful organisations already know their customers and their core needs, however a deeper
Some important questions to ask are:
- What drives the customers’ perceptions of value?
- What are their needs at each step of the process?
- What are their content and channel preferences?
Technology should only be implemented if it improves the business or opens it to new customers. For example, during COVID-19, I’ve seen a number of businesses having to quickly embrace online sales and as that was their only option if they couldn’t open their doors.
- Operational Processes
As with any significant changes to a business, to ensure success you need to have business wide buy-in. There is the need for a review of the organisational bottlenecks. And the need to consider, what level of digital readiness does your team have? A digital transformation also requires a business-wide plan for educating staff. It may be necessary to reassess the roles within your organisation and whether they will still be relevant/the same after the implementation?
You will also want your staff to be prepared for continuous improvement and you’ll want to encourage them to think digitally.. A digital transformation is never complete – especially in today’s world – technology is changing every day so what is right for the business today, might not be in a few years.
Most importantly, before proceeding with any digital transformation you need to understand your current process. Does the proposed new system allow you to undertake the same steps you currently do? If not, is there a better way? Can you still achieve what you need to for your staff and customers? What extra processes do you require because of your new online space, if that is how you are transforming? If you move to an online space, how will you operate your stock control – can your current system handle online sales?
- Business Model
The last category is quite heavily linked to your operational processes but at a higher level – what are your organisational goals? What are you trying to achieve with your digital transformation?
Are you simply trying to fix inefficiencies or do you need to deliver your product/service in a different way to appeal to your customers in the ever-changing consumer climate?
Businesses store and handle significant amounts of data, whether it be about customers or suppliers or other stakeholders. Digital transformation reconsiders hot to harness and leverage that data. If you can use it wisely, this will assist you with identifying trends and being ahead of what your customers are expecting.
The right solution for your transformation
So, now you’ve decided to proceed with your digital transformation and you want to engage an IT professional to assist – how do you explain all of these items that you’ve identified as being vital to your transformation? How do you find the right solution for your transformation?
I’ve discussed this with a few friends and colleagues in the industry and received their insights.
Firstly, it is important to explain to the consultants all of the above. Explain what is important to your business right now, and what about your business do you want to retain going forward. Explain your current processes. You are looking to your consultants to help you with integrating, doing things better or possibly you are looking to them for a new way for customers to interact with you. If that is the case, you want to make sure this new outlet integrates with your existing processes. You need to be prepared for change management – whilst they can assist with that, it is vital you have that organisational buy-in so that everyone wants this change. Don’t get swept up in a product because you have heard “people at the pub” talking about it.. It may not be appropriate for your business just because someone else is using it. You are looking for something to assist with your unique circumstances.
IT services are like any other service, often low price means low quality – make sure you research the consultant you are engaging.
In summary, preparing for a digital transformation is an important process – you need to consider every aspect of your business. The more information you can provide your consultants, the better they will be able to assist.
If this is a topic that is relevant to you and you want to learn more – you can read Janelle Manders article which considers establishing a framework for innovation and transformation.