3 Key Digital Transformation Tips for Companies in 2021
Digitizing operations and services is still a major challenge for companies: here’s how to get it right this year.
Digital Transformation is a wide concept that refers to a range of different ideas, processes and approaches to using digital technologies to improve and optimize functionalities. It’s a concept that has been adopted and pursued in many different areas, from governments and public services to businesses and individuals.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be referring to Digital Transformation from the point of view of businesses; that is, from the perspective of companies seeking to optimize their operations and improve their services to customers using digital assets.
Digital Transformation: Challenges
The need to embrace digital has been a given for a long time. It’s not exactly news to state that businesses without a digital presence and capabilities are going to have an extremely difficult time competing in both their own local markets and the wider global economy, and the situation has only become more extreme with the Covid-19 crisis.
As a result, practically every company from across economic sectors has made some kind of attempt to undertake some kind of Digital Transformation initiative. These can range from simple steps such as creating a website, to building an e-commerce channel or implementing company-wide technological adaptations that change how a business communicates internally and interacts with customers.
Despite the urgency of developing and keeping digital capabilities up to date, the majority of companies face serious obstacles in successfully realizing their Digital Transformation strategies. Indeed, according to research from global digital consultants McKinsey Digital, around 70% of companies run into problems when attempting Digital Transformation.
However, the same survey also indicates that most of the issues companies face are in fact avoidable – if the right type of approach and adequate planning are integrated into the strategy from early on.
We agree with these findings, because we have experienced them first hand when working to help companies that have suffered flawed or problematic digital transformation journeys.
So, in light of these issues surrounding Digital Transformation, this article is going to use some of our own lessons in the field to propose some key goals for companies seeking to optimize their digitization journey this year.
Get Your Team Behind It
One of the key takeaways from the McKinsey study mentioned above is that the vast majority of companies that encountered problems with Digital Transformation reported that these issues were the result of a lack of alignment with the strategy internally among their teams. Other major factors included a lack of adequate training, resources and information for how to make the most of new digital assets.
These issues hint at a common, important point for any company seeking to fully embrace the potentialities offered by Digital Transformation: it can only work if your employees understand the rationale for undertaking it in the first place, are given the required training and capabilities, and know how to use them in order to improve their own operations and the services they offer your customers.
This means that having the right work culture in place prior to a Digital Transformation is key. Employees shouldn’t feel like they are being assigned additional work and overburdened; Digital Transformation should involve a chance to learn new skills, and to apply these skills in a way that optimizes – rather than complicates – their work.
Take the time to lay the groundwork for your planned transformation, involving your team members in the ideation process. This will give them ownership over the project, which will be of pivotal importance if it is going to have a chance of success.
Understand Your Needs – and Your Potential
Most business owners are well aware that they need to “embrace digital” in order to compete in the global economy. However, what that actually entails can be harder to identify, because of the fact that each company is unique.
The first question to ask yourself if you’re planning a Digital Transformation journey is “How can we use digital technologies to improve our operations and services?” By partnering with a professional IT development company, you’ll be able to gain experienced insights into the different ways you can address your current challenges and optimize using technology.
Once you’ve understood what is possible from a technical perspective, you need to ask the second question: “What kind of changes will be required to our team(s) and/or their capabilities in order to effectively implement and use these new digital assets?”
By asking these questions, you’ll be able to build a more coherent and comprehensive picture of the entire Digital Transformation project and what it will require. Digital Transformation is not just about obtaining new digital capabilities; it equally involves having the right company culture, knowledge and human resources to take full advantage of them.
A very common mistake that many companies make when attempting Digital Transformation is choosing a strategy that is unnecessarily complex, ambitious or rigid.
It is only natural that ideas about what exactly is needed will change as a project materializes, and any intelligent Digital Transformation strategy will need to be able to factor in the inevitable need for deviations from the plan.
Creating a more flexible Digital Transformation strategy has many benefits, and can work particularly well if you are able to plan for a long-term roll-out. We would argue that it is much wiser to configure a strategy that is composed of stages, thus giving you the chance to make iterative changes as the project progresses. This can also provide your team members with the chance to get to know new processes and software assets gradually, and to provide feedback on them.
Trying to adopt an entirely new digital approach in a short amount of time is a recipe for disaster in most cases, unless you are in the very small minority of companies with teams that are fully prepared to adapt to radical changes and hit the ground running.
Even if you believe that might be possible, we’d still advise a gradual implementation over a sudden one – it’s always better to have the time to deal with problems that may arise steadily, instead of having to scramble to deal with them all under pressure.
The need for flexibility also applies to the initial ideas you may have had for how your new digital capabilities will function. Functionalities should always serve your unique needs and purposes, and not the other way around. A Digital Transformation journey that ends up leaving a company with advanced technology that doesn’t help to improve operations and services cannot be considered successful.
Conversely, a Digital Transformation that provides modest yet important technological upgrades that are used properly and do improve operations and services is a lot more desirable.
Because Digital Transformation is such a broad concept, it’s of absolute importance that any company seeking to improve and optimize their business through digital assets knows what their options are, can identify what will work best for their own needs, and organizes and prepares their team(s) for the project properly. Ultimately, the most important factor in the success of any Digital Transformation journey is having your team prepared and onboard to see it through to success.
Are you looking to kick off the next phase of your Digital Transformation? Or do you need help finishing what you’ve already? Contact us to find out how Bocasay can be your partner on the journey.