“The last ten years of IT have been about changing the way people work. The next ten years of it will be about transforming your business. – Aaron Levie, CEO, BOX”
For the past few days, we have been hearing a lot about digital transformation. It’s like a new corporate buzzword that is changing the way we interact, communicate, engage, and work. In a nutshell, digital transformation is the integration of digital technologies, processes, and competencies into all areas of a business that completely transforms the way how you operate and deliver value to customers.
When you move from using an attendance register to track employee working hours to a cloud-based time and attendance management system, the business undergoes digital transformation. Today, digital transformation is not a choice, but it is fundamental for all businesses, from small to big enterprises. During an interview, John Chambers, Executive Chairman of Cisco Systems said that around 40% of all businesses will shut down in the next decade if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to embrace new technologies.
There are certain factors that are driving businesses toward digital transformation in 2021. First, the coronavirus outbreak has brought about years of change in the way businesses function or operate. It has forced almost every organization to adopt cloud-based and remote work solutions. Second, changing customer expectations and the need for improved employee experiences have made it vital for businesses to focus on digitizing core processes and systems. Lastly, emerging technologies ranging from AI to AR are moving into production use in many industries or organizations.
All this requires businesses, especially, small-sized businesses to continually challenge the status quo and build resilient operations, develop robust applications and infrastructure, and make data-driven decisions.
If you are a small business that is planning a digital transformation or is struggling with the very concept, here are a few things to consider before you embark on your journey to digital transformation.
Align the organization
Whenever you take major decisions for your business or organization, it is important to keep your employees in the loop. As business leaders, you need to ensure that everyone in your organization recognizes the importance of change. They need to understand that whatever you are doing is important for a secure and successful future.
Identify the areas in need of transformation
As per analyst house IDC, digital transformation could be worth $18 trillion in additional business value. Therefore, it is important to embrace the new technological changes and for that, you first need to identify the areas in need of transformation. Determine your brand’s vision, understand how technology can enhance your business, focus on the impact you want to create on your customers, and adjust existing processes and methods before implementing the digital transformation.
Map out key technologies
Before opting for any new technology or function you need to focus on finding the technologies that would cater to all your business requirements. Mobile, IoT, cloud, robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning augmented reality, and additive manufacturing are some of the common sets of technology that are fundamental to achieving digital transformation.
Build your talent pool
Implementing new technologies in your business will require skilled and dynamic people who can bring ideas to life. You can either outsource the enablement work to IT companies or you can build your team of IT experts. However, if you are a small business, then you can go for outsourcing as it will help you save recruitment and training expenses. Meanwhile, don’t forget to build an in-house team of IT experts to communicate changes and implement them within the organization.
Build the implementation strategy
Create a roadmap to successful digital transformation and reduce the risk of failures. The first step is to build a successful implementation strategy to assess the external and internal situation. Then you can develop a strategy and assess business impacts, develop business solutions, establish initiatives, and deploy solutions. When you start executing your strategy, there might be times when things may overlap, but always try to keep the execution phases in sequential order. Decider whether you need an integrated end to end solution.
Evaluate your success
To measure the success of your digital transformation plan you will need to define criteria for measurement and set up some key performance indicators (KPIs). This will help you keep the transformation process transparent and measurable. These metrics will enable you to identify gaps in your strategy as well as to define and implement corrective measures.
Now, you know all about the major tips that can help you on your journey to digital transformation, you’ll now need a great partner, “as with any journey, who you travel with is more important than the destination.” Many organizations may not have all the expertise to execute digital transformation initiatives all by themselves. Therefore, they must partner with the right solution provider. But how do you select the best partner for your digital transformation journey?
Worry not, here are a few tips for choosing the right digital transformation partner for your organization:
Technical competence: Technical transformation without a dedicated team of technical experts isn’t possible. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your transformation partner has a team of skilled and experienced technical experts who can actually conceptualize the solution that you want.
Organizational footprint: Many firms claim to be the best digital transformation solution provider, but only a few stands true to this claim. Evaluating an organization won’t be that easy but you can start by analysing each company’s organizational strategies, the tools they use, infrastructure, security details, consultants, methodologies, and development strategies.
Share a common goal: When we work together toward a common goal, the odds of success increase exponentially. One of the great ways to ensure increased collaboration is to ask yourself a few simple questions; does your partner understand your expectations, do you both share the same thoughts, work ethics, processes, and priorities. If the answer is yes, then you must not wait and get on board and start working together.
Get your priorities straight: You should have a clear idea about your partner’s ideologies while operating during high-priority and time-critical requirements. Does it adhere to strict procedures to solve a client’s issue or can it go the extra mile to help resolve a challenge? Gather how your partner’s teams collaborate with yours and if you would be able to work with the team in the long run.
Expertise in your Industry: Choosing a partner who has service experience in the same domain as yours can be an added advantage for you. Get in touch with its existing clients or former clients and get a review of their experience with the company. Evaluate case studies, client testimonials, rating, and current workload. All of this will help you make the right decision.
Escalation paths: When you work with other people, there are high chances of conflicts or disagreements, therefore you must first know how a company responds to such issues. While choosing a partner, it’s crucial to evaluate a company’s escalation levels. It is important to know how they respond to a certain situation and how difficult it is to reach the head of the task.
According to research (IT Market Clocks for 2016: Digital Transformation Demands Rapid IT Modernization) conducted by Gartner, 66% of companies executing digital transformation expect to generate more revenue from their operations, while 48% speculate that more business will arrive through digital channels.
When it comes to digital transformation, agility is something that offers a huge advantage to small businesses. The smart use of technology can help small businesses remain competitive in the changing business landscape. However, all small businesses must understand that implementing digital technology is not the end of the digital journey and they must keep evolving with the evolving technology. Digital transformation benefits can’t be achieved with a single technology or software, rather, it is the amalgamation of cultural as well as technological changes that encourage improved performance and efficiency for a business.