Digital transformation is among the buzzwords that we as professionals get to hear perhaps more often than we need to. Every business, brand, and organization, from SBMs to enterprises, seems obsessed with trying to achieve ever-increasing degrees of digital transformation.
Yet when questioned on the same, most professionals, including myself, would struggle to precisely define what digital transformation means. Despite our inability to articulate what we mean when talking about digital transformation, I believe most of us do have a reasonable understanding of the term. The problem is the fact that digital transformation itself, as a process and a mindset, has expanded into too many different domains and has found too varied a type of application that it simply isn’t possible to put down a single, coherent definition of the term.
And because it can be so difficult to quantify what exactly we mean by digital transformation, countless companies and executives often struggle to meaningfully implement it in their business workflows. Considering how competitive the digital environment has become for businesses in recent years, I believe it is worth taking the time to figure out what we mean by digital transformation and how to achieve the same for your business.
What is Digital Transformation?
Put in simple words; Digital transformation is about implementing digital technologies to improve existing business processes and operations. It differs from digitization which is the process of moving your business process from analog to digital, a move from paper to spreadsheets for instance. Digital transformation, on the other hand, is all about constantly reinventing a business with the latest technology to be better suited for the dynamic and ever-changing business environment.
Digital transformation, for any business in this day and age, isn’t just an advantage but a necessity. Customer expectations are higher than ever, and the business landscape is becoming increasingly competitive. As the world gets ever more digitized, leveraging these upcoming technologies to rethink old patterns and reinvent traditional processes may be the only way of surviving.
The real challenge, however, isn’t recognizing the importance of digital transformation but implementing it. An overwhelming majority of brands and executives report that they would like to undergo a digital transformation but aren’t really sure how to do it. Although talented software development companies have been building the tools to do the same for decades now, the real challenge here is identifying the opportunities that can be meaningfully transformed. If you consider yourself one such business that would like some more clarity on the matter, here are five simple tips to help your brand undergo a successful digital transformation.
5 Tips for a Successful Digital Transformation
There are two major aspects to implementing digital transformation. First is understanding the underlying technologies that can power these shifts, and second is fostering a culture that supports and encourages digital transformation. Here are practical ways of tackling both.
Understand your Business Processes and Look for Opportunities to Automate
The first step to undergoing a digital transformation is understanding your business.
Which digital processes are acting like bottlenecks? Where and how could technology improve efficiency? Are customers satisfied with the current digital infrastructure?
These are crucial questions businesses need to consider time and again to ensure they are at the top of their game. One good way of getting started with this is by creating SOPs. In order to automate or improve a business process, we first need to understand precisely how it works and what we want from it.
This is where Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) come into play. These are documents that clearly define business processes as well as chart the essential steps needed to execute it. Once processes are broken down in such steps, they become easy to automate and improve.
Keep Up with Recent and Relevant Digital Disruptions
The business and tech landscape is constantly evolving. There is always something new and revolutionary on the horizon that could potentially change the way we do business. Companies need to keep an eye out for such opportunities. What office software did for corporations two decades ago, AI-driven technology is doing the same for digital marketers and software builders.
The point is that new trends and technology are constantly creating new opportunities and better ways of doing business. We, as brands, need to be on top of these advancements to make the most out of these developments. So based on your SOPs and business plans, identify key disruptions that are revolutionizing your industry and find opportunities to take advantage of these.
Look Beyond your Existing Industry
While it is crucial to understand the developments and opportunities within your industries, businesses can learn a fair bit from looking into adjacent or even unrelated sectors for inspiration. Time and again, approaching the workings of a novel industry from an outside perspective has allowed one to see their own problems and challenges in a new light. Making it possible to come up with radical and innovative solutions.
This cross-pollination of ideas and solutions is essential if brands do not wish to stagnate. In an environment as competitive as today’s, connecting ideas and constantly challenging and innovating the status quo is among the only ways to survive. That is essentially what digital transformation is all about; it isn’t just about implementing new technology for an existing process; it’s about looking above and beyond your borders for better ideas and innovations.
Develop a Culture of Innovation
Speaking of looking beyond innovation, the cultural aspect of undergoing a digital transformation is all about developing an organization-wide culture that incentivizes and encourages innovation.
An attitude toward digital transformation is something that needs to be built from the ground up. Suppose major decisions are made from the top down, but the workforce never learns to innovate. In that case, brands will always find themselves behind the digital transformation curve because managers can only innovate to an extent. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about software developers, artists, finance consultants, or digital marketers; the need to embrace innovation and digital transformations needs to come from the workforce, which is only possible if the organization develops the right culture for it.
Learn to Embrace Failure
While most of us are well aware of the need to embark on a digital transformation journey, the number one reason why we don’t is the fear of failure and the fear of the unknown.
Is it worth investing in data analytics and AI? Can automation tools be relied upon? Is customer experience really worth the hype? Do we really need to innovate if the business is running fine? We are plagued by such questions because we are afraid that these operations may fail. But we must realize that it is only by challenging these fears that we can take our digital transformation efforts to a meaningful level. Digital transformation is all about exploring better ways to do business better than before, and that isn’t possible from the comfort and safety of familiarity.
Oftentimes it can be difficult to figure out what digital transformation means for your business. Many feel lost and confused at this stage, and although companies understand the necessity of it, they more often than not need help with the execution.
Digital transformation is all about utilizing emerging technologies to cultivate new business processes as well as innovating and improving upon existing ones. But beyond just a change on an operational level, digital transformation is also about a cultural shift that expects companies to get comfortable with change and prioritize innovation.
While digital transformation can be challenging, understanding your key business processes, looking out for relevant digital disruptions, encouraging a culture of innovation and cross-pollination of ideas, and not being afraid of failing while at it are some ways brands can undergo a successful digital transformation.
Darren is a writer passionate about Technology, Business, and the evolving relationship between the two. He often tries to bring intriguing perspectives to otherwise familiar ideas, striving to help his audience reimagine the ever-changing tech landscape. He works as a blogger and content marketeer at GoodFirms—a leading review and rating platform built to help brands pick the right service providers for them.