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Key elements of digital transformation

In order to survive and thrive, a company has to be on the constant lookout and ready to adapt to the ever-changing business world. One of the elements driving most of these changes is technology but its implementation can be challenging. Here is how to make digital transformation purposeful and structured.

Tomislav Turniški October 14, 2021

Reading Time5 min

In this ever-changing environment of the 4th Industrial Revolution, technology is rapidly advancing along with the customer's behavior and needs. Both sides are intertwined and drive each other’s development - new apps and features build up the expectations of customers and in return, customers’ behavior instigate pushing of the boundaries in the technological sense.

Technology transformed how we view both B2B and B2C realms and now, more than ever, we depend on it for internal and external business operations. We need it to communicate with our remote team members, collaborate with present and potential clients and handle customers’ requests and complaints.

So, no matter the industry, to keep up with the changes and stay relevant, companies turn to digital transformation.

What is digital transformation?

First things first, to understand key elements of digital transformation, we need to understand what digital transformation is.

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new (or modify existing) business processes, culture, and customer experiences to follow the ever-changing business and market requirements. 

Digital transformation is not connected to the traditional roles like customer service, marketing, and sales. Instead, it reimagines the manner in which we communicate with the customers, how we think about customers, engage them, and close deals with them.

How to carry out digital transformation in your company

Naturally, every company is an entity unto itself, and every business has different needs in relation to the industry it belongs to. However, there are a few common components, that is, pieces of advice that can be applicable in the general sense:

  • Set up goals for digital transformation
  • Build an integrated strategy
  • Secure top to bottom management approval
  • Hire and train people with the right set of skills

Set up goals of digital transformation

For digital transformation to succeed, you have to set goals. That way, your employees have a direction towards which to put their focus and effort. Also, objectives help the management team to evaluate, track and measure the performance of the project. 

The most common objectives are:

Cost reduction

This one is straightforward, and there is more than one solution on the market already. Depending on the task, what’s most often applied in this case are automatization and robotics. 

With automation, your team's knowledge and time are freed for more complex tasks, while automation takes care of it at a fraction of the cost.

Better customer experience

For most companies, improving customer experience is one of the most critical objectives. Mostly, these projects streamline communication by implementing multiple communication channels and updating customer care systems to handle them as effectively as possible. The better the communications are facilitated, the more your team can focus on providing excellent customer service. 

Employee performance improvement

With more streamlined business processes, your employees will be able to speed up monotonous day-to-day tasks, and in that way, improve performance, which will ultimately lead to a more satisfied and productive team. 

Unfortunately, digital transformation is often associated with the idea of replacing humans with technology, when in reality, the most successful conversions utilize technology working side by side with employees to improve performance.

Data security compliance

Today, in the age of IoT, it is hard to find a device that is not connected to the internet. With that in mind, hackers now have more opportunities to access any organization's network than ever. With Internet privacy being the focus of the general public and GDPR in place to protect citizens of the European Union, businesses that work with any sensitive data need to make data security one of their digital transformation goals.

Build an integrated strategy

Once you have goals for your digital transformation, you need to decide how to reach them. 

For example, if your company relies on a network of business systems, apps, and IT infrastructure components, the more integrated those systems are, the better. The less time your employees spend searching the data in several separated systems, the more they can focus on the customers and improve customer experiences. One of the main reasons for digital transformation is to increase the data integration and processes across multiple systems and departments. 

The same concept can be used on your customer-facing systems. Today, when everyone values their time more than ever, the customer is more likely to leave you and go to your competitor just to get more accessible and intuitive services. Clients probably interact with several services when they are interacting with your web application or your SaaS products. These services include web applications to display product information, chat portals for further assistance, payment portals, and other SaaS products. Even when those services are separated systems, they all need to be integrated to provide a seamless customer experience. 

The higher your systems' levels of automatization and integration are, the more your customers will be satisfied. On the other hand, if your digital transformation plan fails, it can dramatically reduce sales, lower productivity levels, increase IT costs, and you can end up with faulty business intelligence. 

Secure top to bottom management approval

Now, if your digital transformation plan is ready, you know your goals, and you know how to reach them, you need to get your management on board. 

Large companies deal with many overlaps across different departments - and that is most noticeable in the IT and marketing departments. 

With many departments overlapping, it is essential for organizational leadership to reach a consensus on any digital transformation strategy and technology. Without it, departments could choose to adopt mutually exclusive solutions, or even worse, departments can start using "shadow IT" - where one department uses particular technology in secret, which can result in blind spots within the organization. 

If essential leadership cannot find an agreement, the most likely scenario is facing a failure. In that case, your goal for a highly efficient business will crumble, and you will be left with IT over-spending, and vital data not being available for business intelligence. 

There are some examples in the Fortune 500 companies "forcing" digital consensus by merging IT and marketing into one. It is a radical solution, but sometimes it may be the only way forward.

Hire and train people with the right set of skills

Last but not least are your employees, working for you now, and the ones you are going to hire somewhere in the future. They are your keystone element of digital transformation. Your staff has to stay on top of the latest technologies, adjust to each customer case by case, and predict the future technology trends. The ability to integrate the most appropriate solutions will help you stay relevant in the long run.  

Not to forget your existing employees, they will need the training to use new technology and solutions effectively. 

Part of your organization will adapt quickly, and they will be the cornerstone of your digital transformation. Others might take longer to adjust to the new processes. A large part of your transformation should include investment in training your employees on the fundamentals of your new business processes. In time, they can be integrated into the new solutions efficiently. 

What are the benefits of digital transformation?

With well-conducted digital transformation, your company will benefit in many ways. The most noticeable benefits are:

  • Lower costs
  • Increased accuracy
  • Improved productivity
  • Expediting your processes

In this time of the 4th Digital Revolution, where technology advances faster than ever before in human history, no company can afford to stay behind and ignore those benefits.

Even though keeping track of these changes can be arduous, catching up with your competition after you’ve significantly fallen behind can prove to be much more time-consuming, not to mention the budget allocations you may have to perform. 

Instead, it’s best to embrace the fact that technological advancement is fast-paced and strive to keep up to the best of your ability. Of course, introducing changes shouldn’t be your goal but the result of the activities that were formed based on a structured approach to digital transformation.