Digital transformation: how it can improve your business
From remote working to leveraging digital data, technology underpins impactful business models – but it won’t harness itself. So, how do businesses implement technology to create new – or modify existing – processes, culture, and customer experiences amid changing requirements? Two words: digital transformations – and it’s down to the C-suite to champion them and ensure they are embraced by the business.
This rethinking of how an organisation uses technology, people and processes to improve business models and performance has evolved into a core deliverable for most businesses – a requirement that was accelerated rapidly by the pandemic.
What the pandemic – and its subsequent impact on businesses – did is precipitate a change in working models, corporate behaviour, and customer expectations, forcing the C-suite to recalibrate its approach to the adoption of digital technology.
Empowered by a realisation that digital transformations don’t have to be an onerous major overhaul of operations, C-suites across the land are implementing them within the context of their business – not just from a technology perspective. Projects that would have taken years can now be completed in a matter of weeks; business models that were dependent on being ‘in-person’ are being delivered digitally; and customers have adapted to the new digital landscape.
In this brave new post-pandemic world, businesses possess the agility to pivot quickly and efficiently by expediting IT projects – whether to survive in the face of headwinds or to capitalise on opportunities in the market. Crucially, all levels of organisations are increasingly open to digitally fuelled change, with departments aligned to deliver projects successfully.
Digital transformation: Why, How, What?
This strategic approach to digital transformations is being driven from the top down by the C-suite who are increasingly aware of the need to plan and implement projects that are business-focused, rapid, flexible, and embraced by all – allowing them to use the resources available for the biggest impact.
With many outdated assumptions about digital transformation upended, the C-suite is getting to grips with why they should continually embrace it, what it is and how to implement it as their business looks to the future – rather than viewing it as a time-consuming, box-ticking exercise that’s the sole responsibility of the IT department.
Forward-thinking businesses strive to provide their customers with a competitive service. To achieve this in today’s dynamic business environment they must make digital transformation a priority.
Get this right and the benefits are compelling:
Enhanced data quality and collection:
Digital transformation creates a system for gathering the right data, optimising it, and incorporating it to drive the business strategy.
Increased efficiency and productivity:
Digital transformation delivers improvements in efficiency and productivity by speeding up processes and streamlining operations.
By embracing innovation and fostering a digital culture that promotes change, businesses are better placed to adapt to shifting market forces and economic upheavals, like those caused by the pandemic.
Better customer experience:
Digital technologies allow businesses to collect, store and analyse customer data, which can be used to tailor products and services to their preferences and achieve better engagement.
Improved resource management:
Digital transformation – in tandem with effective IT support – replaces dispersed legacy systems with modern IT systems designed to consolidate processes and enable the seamless flow of data across departments – allowing for better utilisation of limited resources.
Research by the SAP Centre for Business Insight and Oxford Economics shows that 80% of C-level executives that have completed digital transformations reported increased profitability, and 85% said they’ve experienced increased market share.
Digital transformation provides the agility needed to adapt to changes in the environment and remain relevant long-term.
The pandemic dealt an indiscriminate blow to businesses, forcing them to rapidly change how they operate amid a series of lockdowns that intended to stem the tide of the virus. This experience has precipitated an understanding that digital transformation can occur at a much faster pace than pre-pandemic.
The following steps can help your business embark on a worthwhile digital journey that generates value, without wasting time:
Have a clear strategy:
Digital transformation forms part of the business strategy. Therefore, a digital roadmap that’s guided by business outcomes – not just technology – should form its foundation. Without a clear transformation strategy, your business will lack the direction needed to achieve its digital potential.
Close the technical gap in your leadership team:
Surround yourself with the right team. Identify people with relevant expertise and encourage business leaders to become more technically aware. This might require you to engage with a strategic partner who can introduce new ways of engaging with technology – such as a Managed Business IT Service (M-BiTS) – alongside providing expert IT services.
Align objectives with business goals:
Working in collaboration, IT leaders and other key stakeholders must identify the problem the business is trying to solve and align the digital transformation’s objectives with business goals.
Prepare for cultural change:
It’s people, not technology, that form the core of a digital transformation. Effective channels of communication from the top-down and bottom-up will allow your message to percolate the business. Empowered by relevant information, stakeholders at all levels will be prepared for and willing to embrace change.
Invest in people:
Businesses seeking to align their digital objectives with business strategy must ensure their employees are on the same page. In the pivot to become digital, businesses can’t afford the impact on resources created by skills gaps.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to digital transformation, because it means different things to different businesses. It’s important to invest in your people and management team to ensure they have a common understanding of what digital transformation means to them. This should be viewed as an opportunity to drive your business forward by implementing worthwhile change that’s tailored to your business.
Digital transformation signals a rethinking of how a business harnesses technology, people and processes in pursuit of new business models and new revenue streams. Once a strategy has been defined and embraced by the business, a digital transformation programme can be implemented, improving operations and the business model. Digital transformation is also underpinned by a cultural change that requires the business to constantly challenge the status quo.
Traditionally, digital transformation has been driven by changes in customer expectations around products and services – and while this remains a crucial element, it has taken a global pandemic for us to realise its worth amid lockdowns, enforced homeworking and reshaped business models.
A brave new digital world
Digital transformation has come of age over the last few tumultuous months, evolving into an essential process for any business that wants to remain competitive in today’s dynamic digital economy. Businesses need to adapt quickly and efficiently if they’re going to thrive – and it’s the responsibility of the C-suite, in collaboration with the rest of the business, to make this a reality.