Digital Transformation Is Redefining Success In Business
What Is A Digital Transformation?
In simple words, integrating digital technology across all areas of a business to achieve business goals is digital transformation. At the core of it all is customer satisfaction. This process is multifaceted. It involves various fields and various tools for each of those fields. It is dynamic and requires the entire organization to challenge traditional methods and incorporate new and functional methodologies in the field of digital marketing.
In today’s digital frenzied world, everything has evolved. The way we access news has changed, and shop for things has changed. How we go about doing almost everything in daily life, such as banking, fitness, and payments, has changed and evolved. Businesses, therefore, need to evolve as well, to keep pace with the ever-changing dynamics of customers. The need of the hour is to adapt to the new strategies and technologies and be willing to break the mold. “Survival of the fittest” has never had more meaning than in today’s cut-throat competitive world.
Digital transformation is the buzzword that is keeping all businesses/organizations/start-ups engaged, absorbed, and involved. This inclination is to enhance productivity, revenue, and customer satisfaction.
When we say “digital transformation,” it does not simply mean adopting the latest software or tools, training the workforce, and implementing it. It is something that needs weaving into the very fabric of the organization. The process has to be a part of every team across the organization. It is more about how the teams work in collaboration to achieve the desired results. The way the teams work, their collaboration, together with the technology they use, form the framework of digital transformation.
Digital transformation in businesses is imperative and inevitable. A workplace, however big or small, when digitally-able and data-driven, can achieve success in this endeavor.
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Some Global Statistics:
Most organizations across the globe have acknowledged the need for and have made their foray into digitally transforming their businesses. Most changes to enhance customer experiences come under the realm of digital transformation. Digital transformation is indeed the future for success in businesses, and digital solutions are an answer to customer satisfaction. The companies/organizations that fail to transform digitally will be left behind. Below are some statistics that furthermore reiterate its importance.
- The International Data Corporation (IDC) foretells a direct Digital Transformation investment spend of approximately $5.9 trillion over 2018-2021.
- The market for digital transformation professional services is expected to reach over $175 billion by 2023 (IDC).
- Digital transformation-related software spending will be approximately $288 billion in 2019. This area is touted to be the fastest-growing technology category (IDC).
- The United States and China will be the two largest geographic markets for digital transformation in 2019(IDC).
- 70% of businesses/organizations either have a digital transformation strategy or are working on one (ptc.com).
- As per Smart Insights, 34% of companies have undergone a digital transformation.
- As per CA Technologies, India ranks first on the list for digital transformation business impact scorecard (BIS), with a score of 79/100. The report also reaffirms the correlation between adopting digital transformation and better business performance.
With the disruption in business models by factors like cloud, analytics capabilities, machine learning, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, etc., digital transformation is the only way forward. The statistics above speak for themselves about its significance. There is a major digital revolution in progress, and the organizations that are not a part of it will undoubtedly perish.
The Elements of Digital Transformation:
Staying on top of the game in an ever progressive global market is hugely dependent on an organization’s ability to adapt to new technologies. The process of digital transformation has to be customer-centric. Without customers, the organization has no value. Keeping the customers engaged, providing them with meaningful and delightful experiences via multiple channels, providing them with upgraded products/services to meet their requirements is of prime importance.
As per Satya Nadella, (CEO, Microsoft), there are four pillars to a successful digital transformation in any business/organization:
- Empower employees.
- Engage customers.
- Optimize operations.
- Transform products.
Empower Employees: Employee empowerment is vital for a positive digital transformation. Just the introduction of newer technologies might leave the workforce resentful and confused. Training them in the appropriate use and guiding their transition makes the process simpler and productive. Empower them with not just the tools but the knowledge on the “why” and “how,” so they can serve better. Empowered employees are happy employees. They form a productive workforce that eventually translates into better customer satisfaction.
Engage Customers: There is a drastic shift in customer expectations today. The choices available to customers further complicate things. The customers expect quicker responses, more engagement across different platforms, innovative products, and more to stay loyal to a brand. Keeping a customer-centric approach is hence, critical in any digital transformation process.
Optimize Operations: A non-siloed process with no reluctance in sharing information with employees across different levels is crucial for the process. The transparency ensures seamless integration, collaboration, and operation of the organization as a whole more efficiently.
Transform Products: Product/service enhancement based on customer expectations and newer technology is the most natural next step to achieve digital transformation. An agile infrastructure should be in place to actively accommodate rapid changes and upgrade products/services to customer satisfaction.
What Are The Signs That Call For A Digital Transformation In Business?
Many businesses out there dismiss the need for a digital transformation and cling on to the traditional methods. There are yet others that embark upon a digital transformation but do not get the desired results. In both these scenarios, the businesses will lag as others move forward. Digital transformation is not a one-step or one-time process. Rather, it is constantly evolving and needs constant up-gradation of skills and technology to stay afloat in the digital world.
Most often than not, it is possible to foretell the need for a business to embrace digital transformation. Let us walk you through some such signs:
- Lack of integration across platforms. There is a lack of transparency between departments leading to a lack of integration and collaboration. A siloed structure is a sure-shot detriment to the progress of the business as a whole.
- Old technology. There is a host of new-age software and devices that are user-friendly, project management-friendly, and digital marketing-friendly. Creating an effortlessly seamless experience for the customers across multiple channels with a user-friendly interface calls for better software and tools at the employee level, as well. Tools that can be used on desktops and mobiles and that allow data sharing and real-time project management would serve better.
- Tried and tested methods no longer generating leads. When the traditional methods of promotion fail to generate business, it is time to rethink in terms of digital marketing strategy.
- A decreasing customer base. Every business today has a customer-centric approach with the firm belief that the customers are the lifeline of a thriving business. If your customer base is decreasing, there are no more referrals, and no strong digital presence, it calls for a revamp.
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Goals In Marketing:
The goals at the marketing level are to increase the customer base and decrease spending. The shift from analog to digital marketing ensures both these goals. Digital transformation in marketing is via marketing automation, data collection and analytics, and one-on-one interaction with customers via social media marketing, taking personalization to a whole new level.
Some traditional methods, their digital counterparts, and the impact of the transformation are:
- Print materials are replaced by digital materials. The impact is cost reduction and the ability to gauge prospects based on digital interactions.
- Email campaigns replace print mail campaigns. The impact is again cost reduction and greater reach.
- Social media advertising replaces print/billboard advertising. The impact is personalized targeting and cost reduction.
- Other advertising like brochures and pamphlets are replaced now by mobile apps, websites, or e-commerce sites. The impact is yet again reduced cost and greater outreach, better personalization, and better real-time analytics.
Goals In Sales:
Not just marketing, but the traditional role of sales is also transforming. The sales department in any business is data-driven. In the digital age, data access is like never before. Large amounts of data on consumer preference and behavior from touchpoint through their entire journey to the point of buying give valuable insights. Digital transformation in Sales is by incorporating AI. Artificial Intelligence combs through extensive data providing awareness and understanding of consumer patterns, correlations, and anomalies.
Digital transformation across sales also incorporates the social media element. With consumers being hugely affected in their decision-making by social media platforms, reviews, comments, and testimonials, this is one area that provides a huge opportunity for digital-savvy businesses.
Goals in Service:
Customer expectations are at a whole new level in step with the digital revolution. Smartphone ubiquity, digital payment, digital shopping, digital learning, from food delivery to health services, the digital-savvy customer has everything at just a swipe and tap away. With such ease of access, the service expected by customers also has to evolve. Digital transformation helps quicker resolution to customer queries. Social media is the new platform to interact with customers and answer their queries and provide resolution to problems if any.
Offering customers ease of reach certainly amps their brand loyalty. A user-friendly interface, seamless integration across devices, and self-service portals to log-in service requests, etc., are only some of the features that make the customer service experience delightful.
Having had a glimpse of how digital transformation changes different levels of a business/organization, we will now briefly go through digital transformation across various industries.
Who Should Lead Digital Transformation In An Organization?
Digital transformation in any organization has to be a process adaptation by all levels of the organization and not just one. The most common perception is that it is the sole responsibility of the IT department. False! It is something that every member across every team is responsible for. Having said that, there is no definite answer to the question of who should lead the digital transformation, but culture change is the hardest in the process.
The imperative part is to align the process with the overall goals and objectives of the company and develop a strategy. A person who is digital tech-savvy may not understand business and vice versa. Digital transformation is more about reorganization and change in the way we think, a radical change. Transformations are by nature, difficult and hard. Digital transformations are harder, requiring doing away with many traditional practices that have been around for so long that they seem embedded at the very core of organizations.
The approach of digital transformation differs from industry to industry, from one organization to another. Though the process implementation is at all levels, the C-suite specialists of different domains are the ideal champions to lead the process. The responsibility of the C-suite executives is to ensure transparency, sharing of data and information across levels, empowering employees with the digital tools, and the know-how on how to use the same.
Studies have shown CMOs leading the transformation in 34% of organizations, with CIOs and CTOs taking charge of only 19% of organizations. Some organizations have CEOs leading the change, and some organizations are introducing an altogether new role, that of a Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Regardless, the teams and top-level employees have to work together to remain relevant in the ongoing digital revolution.
Digital Transformation Strategy.
There are hoards of dos and don’ts when it comes to digital transformation. The process differs from company to company, but the fundamentals remain the same. Actionable intelligence is the keyword here. A successful digital transformation strategy is holistic and must answer the questions of what, why, how, and who. Some best practices for a successful digital transformation strategy are:
- Select and implement digital tools that are relevant to the transformation in alignment with the overall business goals (including project management, time tracking, and social media management tools).
- Improve cybersecurity as a shift to digital invites cyber threats and breaches.
- Engage leaders to support the transformation who will guide the teams and monitor the progress. Such leaders should challenge old ways of working, redefine roles and responsibilities, encouraging radical rethinking. They act as the bridges steering the old to the new.
- Make the shift from the standard operating procedures to newer digital technologies that work for your business model.
- Communicate the goals, the need, and the means to achieve the goals across the entire organization.
- Empower employees to be a part of the transformation and suggest/generate ideas. Empower them with the new skills to use the new technology efficiently.
- Senior-level employees to get more involved in the new digital initiatives.
- The champions/executives leading transformation are to ensure data sharing and collaboration across units of the organization.
- Develop user-friendly digital systems, use data analytics to improve digital systems, and creating integrative digital solutions.
- Overcome employee resistance and culture change resistance by implementing policies that encourage digital transformation.
- Open communication between departments.
- Last but not least, let the digital transformation have an end goal of improved customer satisfaction, enhancing their experience.
Challenges in the Digital Transformation Process:
As mentioned, all transformations are hard. Digital transformation is harder. Any change meets with resistance. The same is true with the humongous process of digital transformation. It is fraught with challenges. Let us go through some challenges:
- Employee Resistance: By nature, human beings prefer the comfort zone. Anything that pushes them out of it makes them insecure and threatened. Most often, it is the skill gap that makes them insecure. Employees are important to any organization. Address this challenge by training them with skills to use new technologies, empowering them to give their suggestions, and motivating them with policies encouraging the change.
- Lack of Expertise to Lead Digitization Initiatives. Newer technology calls for better expertise and talent. If unavailable within the current company setup, hire talent that will provide movement to your digital transformation.
- Organizational Structure. With a process as huge as digital transformation, there is a possible need to overhaul the entire organizational structure. Changing roles, changing departments, newer responsibilities for existing roles, etc., are all a part of the process. Let your organization be fluid and agile, adapting skillfully to that which is new.
- Limited Budget. Financial constraints are a concern for any transformation big or small. Pre-plan the budget alongside the strategy and phase out the transformation if necessary.
- Omnichannel adaptation. It is a common thing for customers today to hop from one channel to another, online, to offline stores even. The process must be omnichannel supportive catering to the ever-changing expectations of the customer. Considering the trend today, it is worth the investment.
- Customer Experience. The process should work on optimizing all the touchpoints along the journey of the customer’s buying, improving sales and retention, and increasing brand loyalty.
Digital Transformation Benefits:
This is a gigantic process and comes with equally stupendous benefits.
- Digitalization/Automation of Business Process. It eliminates a lot of manual tasks encouraging business process automation. Greater accuracy, reduced costs, and a more streamlined process are significant by-products of a digital transformation.
- Employee Empowerment. Employees, the most important asset of an organization, are empowered with new tools and technologies and also partake in the decision-making and transformation process, boosting their morale.
- Greater Customer Insights. Enabling customers to reach out to your services/products via their preferred channel, the faster turnaround time for requests, providing multiple touchpoints, tracking interactions, instant feedback, are all the perks of transforming an organization to be digitally able. The result is a better and enhanced customer experience leading to better business.
- Data-based insights. The ability to track metrics, mine the data, and analyze it for gainful insights is perhaps the most invaluable benefit. This information guides future decision-making.
- Collaboration and transparency across departments. The process of digital transformation is impossible without breaking down the siloed structure and sharing information across levels, leading to a better and more integrated organization.
- Improved skill set, agility, and innovation. Newer technology calls for upgrading skills, learning new skills, and being ready to adapt and innovate. These key changes ultimately make the entire organization agile and readily adaptable to challenges.
Undoubtedly, technology carefully aligned with business goals leads to improved productivity and compelling cost reduction. Across all sectors, digital technology is enhancing customer experience and creating new business models. Newer digital technologies are promoting globalization and transforming it.
In conclusion, in the era of digital globalization, the choice of remaining on the outside is liberty that businesses no longer have. There is a pressing need for businesses of all shapes and sizes to embrace and embed digital into the core of their business models. Investment in digital transformation will positively transform the business itself. The gains from its implementation supersede anticipations.
Before starting a digital transformation, assess your organization in terms of the need for the transformation, the improvement from the customer’s perspective, how to go about implementing it, and the budget involved. Approach the process and the journey with a well-planned strategy designed with a vision of reaching the end goals.
Embark on a digital transformation, stay agile, and be on top of your game or cling to the traditional and lag. The choice is yours to make.
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