The global pandemic has created a time of uncertainty, but also one of opportunity. To survive one of the most challenging economic conditions of our times, many of us have had to adapt to new ways of working and adopt new technologies. Digital transformation has the power to deliver flexibility and drive innovation. And while no one knows what the future holds, or when the pandemic will end, digital transformation shows no signs of slowing down. To move forward and stay competitive, technology is key. Whether this means modernising legacy systems, developing new products or reimagining internal operations, digital transformation has become a top priority for organisations large and small.
What is Digital transformation?
In its simplest term, digital transformation is business transformation that uses technology. However, it isn’t all about technology. Having a new piece of software or system won’t be successful in its own right if it isn’t centred around those who use it. Transformation should always be focused on creating value. This means reviewing how your business works and then rebuilding it around people, processes and technology. Digital transformation offers an opportunity to rethink what customers value most and create business models that can deliver upon or exceed expectations.
Changing Customer Demands
Customer demands are shifting rapidly from what they once were. The biggest percentage of people alive today grew up in the digital era. As such, a large volume of consumers look to mobile apps for their interaction with companies. And that counts for all industries. Whether your business is in technology, manufacturing or retail, customers want to have the same experience with you as they do with digital companies like Amazon, Apple and Facebook. Meanwhile, people are using technology to determine who to trust, where to go and what to buy. While business leaders have long used technology as a way to improve productivity and efficiency, customers are now one of the main drivers.
How people interact with information and technology in their personal lives is creating a fundamental change in the expectations of the business world. Simple tasks are turned into intuitive experiences. However, business technology is more complicated. You need to work out how consumers interact with your company as well as how employees work inside your organisation.
The Challenges of Digital Transformation
Innovative technologies and digital solutions enter the marketplace at a staggering rate. However, while the technology is there, implementing it can be a different thing altogether. While many companies are investing in digital transformation, it isn’t always a simple road. There are some common challenges that you may face along the way:
- Culture – as we’ve already touched on, digital transformation is about so much more than technology alone. It requires structural and process changes. However, to make that happen, employees need to embrace new technology and new workflows. To overcome this, communication is key, as well as identifying key skill gaps and creating the opportunities to upskill.
- Strategy – companies can easily get carried away with digital transformation, focusing on the tools and applications themselves and their performance rather than the value that those improvements will deliver to customers and business users. The shift in strategy can make a huge difference; defining what success means is fundamental.
- Infrastructure – it is often integrating technology with existing enterprise systems that creates one of the biggest challenges. Most of these legacy systems were built before the digital era and are not simple to replace. Viewing transformation as an ongoing process and not a one-off race helps with this and gives time to ensure the right technology stack is put in place to move the business forward.
Instead of creating a better version of the past, transformation is about delivering new value through new business models. It is more than updating software and implementing technology. It is about creating the right processes and workflows, gaining visibility and insights and making data-driven decisions.
The Benefits of Digital Transformation
Digital transformation changes the way your business operates, including systems, processes, workflows and culture. Workflow automation and advanced processing, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, can entirely transform operations. This level of change affects every level in the organisation, bringing together data to deliver some serious business value:
- Consolidate resources – instead of having dispersed software and databases, resources can be brought together in one place. With a central repository for business intelligence from applications, databases and software, it is much easier to deliver a consistent experience.
- Gain insights – while we all collect data, collecting the right data and incorporating it into your business makes all the difference. Data is the key to unlocking customer and operational insights. By understanding customers and their needs, you are able to deliver more relevant, personalised and agile content and drive business growth.
- Improve Experience – by connecting enterprise-wide systems and technology, you can simplify the customer experience, ensuring it is seamless regardless of when, where or how they interact with your business.
- Increase agility – as customer demands change, being able to respond quickly is fundamental. Digital transformation can help you to digitise manual processes, improve efficiencies and gain real-time visibility. And all that can put you a jump ahead of the competition.
- Facilitate mobility – with the right technology and systems, you are able to take the information, automation and security of your business applications and extend them to the edges of your enterprise. With an increased reach, you can gain more value from your systems and empower your workforce to be more efficient and effective.
- Boost productivity – by having the right technology that works together, you can streamline workflows and improve productivity. By automating manual tasks and integrating data throughout the business, you can empower people to work more efficiently.
- Increase profits – last, but by no means least, by realising all of the other benefits of digital transformation, you will also see a significant improvement in profitability.
Can Digital Transformation Add Value to Your Business?
Digital transformation has the ability to remove the complexity of your business processes and systems while offering mobility and flexibility. It gives your business the opportunity to become more agile and to innovate more readily. If you manage to bring together technology along with processes and people, not only can you improve your business today, but you will have a real opportunity to get your business where it needs to be tomorrow.