Digital transformation is a huge need in global business today, but it may surprise you to learn that an inordinate number of businesses are failing in their efforts to make this transition.
The digital transformation process affects every facet of business, from technology and strategy to culture and talent. However, studies on the topic point to leadership as the most common weak link in the chain.
Without a strong effort towards aligning transformational goals, companies run the risk of falling short in their efforts and losing sight of the long-term objective. The key to success in digital transformation is to focus on the opportunities rather than the risks, and to prioritize the future as opposed to shoring up the present.
Digital transformation: the why behind it all
For most companies, digital transformation is a must. It’s possible that some smaller companies could bypass this eventuality, but for the vast majority, digital transformation is the only way businesses will be able to satisfy their customers and vendors while staying competitive in the global marketplace.
As for the specific reasons why the process is so important, here’s a handful. Digital transformation:
- Supports scale
- Improves efficiency in the supply chain
- Removes data silos across the entire organization
- Provides customers with convenience and transparency
- Provides internal operations with valuable, actionable business data
- Improves data security and the ability to recover from disaster
- Complies with new privacy and data access regulations
- Reaches customers in a more meaningful way
- Leverages new technologies like AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning)
- Automates repetitive processes
- Improves employee engagement and productivity
- Reduces costs
- Improves efficiencies and productivity in every department
The bottom line is that new opportunities open up to businesses that undergo digital transformation. Those that don’t may risk closure—or at the very least, obsolescence—as customer and vendor expectations continue to align to this “new normal.”
So, with all these clear advantages, why is it that so many companies are failing to follow through?
Digital transformation challenges and how to overcome them
The process of digital transformation is not simple by any means. It’s not just a matter of deciding on a new platform and diving in—it affects technology, business processes, and, perhaps most importantly, people.
The larger the company, the more difficult the changes can be. Altering day-to-day processes to meet the demands of the new technology and changing people’s attitudes towards the new processes can be challenging. Employees have to believe in the ultimate mission, and without the support of leadership in this regard—even with the support of leadership, in fact—there are bound to be obstacles along the way.
Success is never assured, but it can be supported with good planning and preparation. Without obtaining buy-in from all of your stakeholders, you will run into problems. All employees, particularly those in leadership roles, will need to take ownership of the process and support their teams through every stage.
Despite your decision on what specific technologies to deploy, without proper guidance and leadership, the process is bound to fail. The key to success in digital transformation is to put people first, develop a strategy, and then implement the changes in stages in order to minimize disruption.
In a perfect world…
A well-thought-out transformational plan will look seamless on the customer-facing side. Customers will notice improvements in service delivery, transparency, communication, and customer service—and they may even realize savings in the process.
Being able to keep business processes flowing throughout your digital transformation is key. While there are bound to be glitches, the overall improvements will be worthwhile. The failures along the way will be learning experiences that can lead to even greater process improvement.
Internally, the process should be managed from the top down. First, leadership must be aligned with the specific goals the business is trying to accomplish. They should be focused on the long-term improvements more than the immediate ROI. It should be understood that incremental changes are ideal and largely unnoticeable, while sweeping changes are bound to cause disruption.
Next, each department should be trained in advance on the new technologies to be implemented. Employees should understand why these changes are being implemented and how the changes are going to improve their workflow.
For example, by implementing an omnichannel customer service posture, associates will have access to every customer interaction. This means that the time they take to solve problems will be shortened, and customer satisfaction will improve. Better customer service leads to more business, which results in profits and a stronger brand.
A balanced focus on front-end and back-end processes is important as well. A successful digital transformation addresses both sides at the same time. For instance, a company should allocate a dedicated IT team to manage cloud migrations and infrastructure transformation while experimenting with automation, IoT (Internet of Things) devices and sensors, AI, chatbots, and blockchain technologies at the same time.
Is your digital transformation doomed?
If you are a company in Arkansas in need of support for a successful digital transformation, call Business World today to set up a consultation.