‘Digital Transformation’ is a trending term frequently used in business. However, despite its increased adoption, many people do not actually understand what ‘Digital Transformation’ means or how the term is applied in the world of business.
The following article explains the concept of digital transformation to provide a better understanding of the term. Additionally, we aim to provide you with valuable insight into what drives digital transformation, who is responsible for the process and some of the commercial and financial advantages of digital transformation.
WHAT IS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION?
In a nutshell, digital transformation is about using digital tools and applications more effectively to improve business agility, productivity and performance.
Through a strategy-led approach, a digital transformation process would look something like this:
- Review your business operations and identify the gaps where improvements can be made,
- Close these gaps through the introduction of new digital solutions.
When applied correctly, digital transformation can be used to improve every function of your business activities, from customer service and operations to accounts and human resources. Changes in consumer demand, increased competition and emerging technologies are three examples of business challenges that drive digital transformation. By addressing business challenges using digital transformation, this ensures your business will grow, remain competitive in today’s marketplace and continue to prosper using a digital operating model.
It is also worth mentioning the importance of accepting the fact we now operate in a ‘digital first’ world and we must make the effort to clearly understand what digital tools are required for our businesses to prosper. With the concept of ‘digital first’ being at the heart of every business, there’s an argument to suggest the term ‘digital transformation’ may be outdated and what we should be referring to is business transformation’.
At the same token, others combine the two terms to define it as ‘digital business transformation.’ This process involves the implementation of a digital strategy that aligns with a company’s business objectives including the integration of digital and business technologies. In combination with a management transformation strategy that joins people, processes, and change management in the organisation results in a complete digital business transformation.
WHAT DRIVES DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION?
In reality, it is fair to say that digital transformation is often a ‘reactive’ process that happens when a business is forced to evaluate its existing business model and introduce one or more digital solutions to facilitate business growth and remain competitive in the current marketplace.
We are very fortunate to live in a time when so many advanced technologies are available to help us improve our business operations and reduce operational costs. However, it’s important not to lose sight of the vision and the objectives that are driving your decision toward digital transformation, whether it be changing your operational model or one or more elements of your infrastructure.
It’s also important to recognise that digital transformation isn’t just about the end product. It is also about people, processes, and change.
For example, you could deploy the best CRM application in the world that’s tailored to serve your unique business requirements. However, if there is a lack of understanding internally about the application, its purpose and how to use the product effectively, then the transformation process is pointless and all the money you have invested in it will be wasted.
A LIST OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION EXAMPLES.
Here are some great examples of where digital transformation has been applied to help businesses to evolve.
Through the clever use of Big Data, Our IT Department helped an established insurance broker to convert vast amounts of current and historical business data into an essential tool that allows them to provide a better customer service experience. Additionally, it helped them to reduce their expenses, make better calculated business decisions and gain a better market share. Source.
- MANAGEMENT .
The American Management Association (AMA) implemented a solution known as Caspio to generate, manage and qualify leads using automated tools. This alleviated the pressure that was being placed on their small technical team and allowed them to spend more time following up on leads instead of managing them. The application framework operates as a wizard that enables the AMA to easily design, integrate, and deploy applications on the AMA website. By switching to Caspio, AMA doubled their leads and reduced their processing time by almost 75%. Source.
Caterpillar Inc. and data analytics specialist, Uptake, have recently co-developed predictive diagnostics tools that collect data from heavy machinery. Once the data is collected, it is converted into information that helps their clients to proactively identify potential maintenance issues before they propagate into a larger problem. The solution also offers tools that monitor heavy machinery fleets and applications capable of tracking idle times, fuel efficiency, machinery location and more. The outcome is mitigated downtime, increased productivity and reduced operating costs. Source.
US power management corporation, Eaton, introduced a web-based monitoring solution called ‘eNotify’ that provides 24/7 remote monitoring of Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) systems. eNotify provides access to ongoing health monitoring of the UPS, including battery status to prevent battery failure which is the main cause of downtime.
It also provides access to real-time status and response information around the clock 24/7 with emergency notifications of any problems via email, smartphone, mobile device or pager. This provides the organisation with peace of mind that the systems are being monitored by trained technicians that are ready to respond to critical alerts. The result is increased reliability and performance while reducing risks associated with downtime. Source.
Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank introduced a new online and mobile banking service that is maintained within a single app. The app allows banking customers to manage their money at any time from any location. The app is available across a wide variety of platforms along with text-based mini statements and on demand balance alerts that can be distributed on a schedule. Customers can also switch cash between current and savings accounts, make payments at the touch of a button, tag and track spending and get direct access to dedicated customer service, all from within the app. Source.
HOW TO APPROACH DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION.
In most cases, digital transformation will affect everyone within your organisation. Because of this, it’s important to keep everyone-involved in the- digital transformation process from day one. Additionally, the service provider/internal IT function responsible for overseeing the digital transformation project must have time to acquire feedback from all end users who are affected by the digital transformation effort within your organisation..
The time it takes to complete a digital transformation process is dependent on the size of your organisation, your circumstances and digital requirements, in addition to the resources/skillset you have at your disposal.
The majority of small to medium enterprises will not have the in-house resources required to:
- Identify where digital applications can be used to improve business operations and,
- Implement these tools and applications effectively.
So, on most occasions, small to medium enterprises will outsource their digital transformation requirements to a specialist vendor/service provider.
The best digital transformation specialists can provide a seamless transition to the latest technologies. They should also be able to prevent the need for future transformation by ensuring your organisation understands the new technologies and how they can be used to remain one step ahead of the competition.
Five important factors to focus on when approaching digital transformation:
- Objectives – Why are you implementing a digital transformation?
- Strategy – Do you understand where you are going with digital now and in the future?
- Technology – What digital tools, software applications and platforms are the best fit for your business?
- Processes –Do you understand how digital technologies should be used to change the way you work for the better?
- People – Do you have the skills or have you identified a service required to make the transformation? Does everyone in your business understand the reasons for digital transformation?
MAKING THE CASE FOR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION.
Digital transformation requirements differ from one organisation to the next. However, when applied correctly, your business will prosper from the many commercial and financial advantages of digital transformation. Let’s take a look at some of these advantages below:
SAVE MONEY AND INCREASE REVENUE.
There’s several ways in which digital transformation can greatly reduce your operational costs. Examples include the consolidation of existing applications and improved organisational efficiency and communications through the introduction of smart technologies.
In addition, there are a number of digital tools and applications that can be used to monetise large amounts of customer data (or big data). The tools convert the data into an essential tool that provides a better customer experience, reduced expenses, improved calculated business decisions in addition to ultimately gaining a better market share.
IMPROVED ORGANISATIONAL EFFICIENCY.
Although we live in a ‘digital first’ world, it is important to take a ‘people first’ approach to digital transformation. Improved organisational efficiency can be achieved through the introduction of one or more digital tools and applications designed specifically for streamlining commercial and financial business processes which helps everyone within your organisation to work more efficiently. In many instances, it’s possible to consolidate multiple applications into a single platform to simplify operational processes.
A BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE EXPERIENCE.
‘Customers are the lifeline of your business’ is another statement that is overused in business, but a very true statement nonetheless. There are many digital solutions that have been created to enable your customer service team and optimise the customer service experience you provide to your clients.
There are many benefits of implementing solutions that enhance customer service. An improved customer service experience will lead to better customer retention, an increase in customer referrals, improved productivity and staff morale..
A BETTER WORKING ENVIRONMENT.
Digital transformation can help to create better working environment which will ultimately increase productivity throughout your business.
Staff morale can be improved through the introduction of digital solutions that improve communications between both colleagues and customers. Digital collaboration solutions will make it easier for your staff to work together on tasks and ongoing projects. Additionally, customer service workflows and processes will reduce stress and pressure on your staff.
These are just a few of many examples where digital solutions can help to improve your working environment.
IMPROVED NETWORK SECURITY.
Technology brings many benefits to business. However, there are also a few drawbacks including network security issues, for example. In addition to mainstream applications such as antivirus solutions, there are a number of advanced digital solutions available that will improve network security and protect your intellectual property. These include data leakage prevention solutions, managed firewall services and vulnerability assessment solutions.
It is important to be aware that any new digital technologies you implement should provide value to your staff and be useful both to the customer and your business.
You should also recognise that digital transformation is about improving your business operations and doing things better. This is accomplished through the introduction of intuitive technologies instead of adapting technology to fit an existing business model.
Digital transformation often transpires as a result of the failure to adapt to people’s behaviours, the needs of the customer and market changes. As previously stated, a seamless transition to the latest technologies is critical to the success of your business. Additionally, maintaining an understanding of new digital solutions and how they can be used to stay one step ahead of the competition and maintain profitability is just as important.
You’ll find a great selection of helpful resource documents and whitepapers that can be downloaded from our Digital Transformation Resources Page.
ABOUT OUR IT DEPARTMENT.
Our IT Department is a UK-based IT Support services organisation that provides a comprehensive range of award winning IT services and technology solutions to businesses across London and the East of England. We will take ownership of your next Digital Transformation project, or we will provide ongoing strategy consultancy services to your existing IT function.
Our IT Department is ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001:2013 accredited. We are also a Microsoft Gold certified Cloud solutions specialist.