5 Practical steps to start your digital transformation
Aside from being a buzzword in the business world, digital transformation is an undeniable necessity in this day and age. Over just a few years, shopping has become a one-click experience, and customer service almost always starts with a chatbot. Most business leaders have picked up on the importance of digital, and they now take a digital strategy for what it actually is: less a competitive advantage and more a way to secure a company's future. So much so that during the pandemic, even though 52% of companies had to cut or defer investments, only 9% were reported to make cuts to their digital transformation budgets.
However, despite many years of analysing, defining and redefining what a digital transformation means for established companies, the process is still challenging and very complex. The competing demands from different departments, high costs, and the fact that the end results are not always instant are just a few of the struggles that companies face when committing to a digital transformation.
Here are 5 easy steps to begin your company's digital transformation journey:
1. Define what "digital transformation" means to your company
Did you know that 55% of start-ups have already adopted a digital business strategy, compared to 38% of traditional companies? Part of the reason is that smaller businesses have less trouble defining what precisely digital transformation means for them.
One of the biggest challenges of a transformation is that there is no universal standard of what it is; it's very different from business to business. This isn't surprising, considering the fact that there are so many technologies available and that every company has different customers, clients, and needs.
How can you define what it means for your company?
- Clarify why you need a digital transformation and what you're trying to achieve.
- Analyse your entire business: current challenges and those you can foresee in the future, your competition, value chain, customers, etc.
- Use the information to define what your business needs in terms of digitalisation.
2. Assess your digital capabilities
Once you define what a digital transformation means to your business, analyse the existing capabilities: what technologies are you currently using? Do you have the talent you need in-house, or are you missing certain technical profiles?
For digital transformation to be successful, companies need to critically assess how they're currently operating and determine how they can address current gaps through investments, strategic alliances or plugging into the digital ecosystem.
3. Define the best alternative for your business
Once the end goal and the current capabilities are clearly defined, the next step is to understand the various options to help you reach your digital transformation objectives.
Usually, the strategy either focuses on upgrading front-end parts of the business, such as evolving the customer service process by including features such as chatbots, or the back-end by building a robust IT infrastructure, automating processes or transforming operations using advanced technologies such as machine learning or AI.
4. Get your team onboard
Did you know that companies where senior leaders, management teams and the organisation as a whole are on board with the company's digital transformation, its implementation and adoption are 2X faster? Getting company-wide buy-in is key because if internal stakeholders, leaders, and teams don't understand the value of the digital transformation, they won't have the same drive to turn it into a success story.
5. Create a roadmap for your digital transformation
Many companies often mistake using digital rather than being digital by incorporating technology to address specific problems rather than making them a part of an overall strategy. A clear roadmap will ensure that your digital transformation journey is a comprehensive plan that will future-proof your business and not just an upgrade in the technologies you're currently using. Define what will be changed first, what will have the most significant impact and drive the most value, and the blockers you foresee.
Although a digital transformation is unique to each company, the first steps of most digitalisation processes are usually the same. Organisations start by analysing what the transformation means to their particular business. The next step is assessing the current capabilities, determining if there are any gaps and addressing them. However, without getting leaders, managers and the company on board with the project, it won't be easy to ensure that the transformation is the success story it can be. Start by showcasing the benefits, explain how a digital transformation is vital for the future of the business, and why it should be a priority in the long- term. The next step is to build a practical roadmap that will explain when everything needs to happen, how the business will progressively change and what the transformation will look like.
Getting these foundations right is critical for the success of digital transformation projects.