Digital transformation: how to avoid setbacks on your way to success

Digital transformation: how to avoid setbacks on your way to success

Despite all the recent shocks, the digital economy is experiencing high growth and rapid innovation. Nearly every industry out there is undergoing or at least considering digital transformation in one way or another. For many businesses, it means either adapting to a new digital landscape by creating smart and effective ways of leveraging technology — or facing the risk of being outperformed by competitors. This, of course, raises a bunch of questions relevant to nearly every entrepreneur.

How to get started with digital transformation? How to make it less challenging and risky? And what is it, exactly?

Well, sit back, and let’s figure out what a digital transformation success story looks like:

What is digital transformation and what is it not?

Digital transformation is the process of streamlining workflows using digital technologies. The goal here is to meet changing business and market requirements. Yet, not every process of replacing analog components in your workflow with their digital counterparts can be called digital transformation.

In fact:

  • The process of converting information from analog to digital is called digitization. Digitization includes things like converting physical documents to digital files.
  • Using digitized information to make traditional workflows more efficient is known as digitalization. Digitalization isn’t about changing your business behavior but about increasing pace so that your data is instantly accessible from anywhere and not trapped in a dusty file cabinet.
  • Subsequently, digital transformation is a set of processes that adds value to customer satisfaction. It’s aimed at changing the way business gets done and creating entirely new classes of businesses. With digital transformation, a company can take a look back and review its core activities, from internal operations to online and in-person customer interactions.

Why is having a clear digital transformation strategy so important?

When done correctly, digital transformation can:

  • Streamline internal processes
  • Improve customer experience
  • Boost efficiency and increase revenue

Still, over the past few years, the success rate for transition efforts has been quite low — with most of the money companies spend on digital transformation going to waste.

According to McKinsey’s survey on organizational transformation, less than 30 percent of companies enjoy real success when it comes to digital transformation. At the same time, only 16% of respondents think their organizations’ digital transformations have improved their performance in the long run. An additional 7% say that performance improved but that the improvements were not sustainable.

Many don’t understand that digital transformation involves more than applying new technology to your current system(s). In reality, having technology is just the first step.

If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you not only have to react to changes but anticipate them and drive innovation. It means having a predetermined plan for dealing with possible complications that can arise along the way. This is where your digital transformation strategy comes in.

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Those who nailed it: real-life success stories

Apart from automating business processes, digital transformation includes changing mindsets and approaches. In most cases, it takes years to complete the transition. If you’re expecting things to change overnight, let us tell you, it’s not going to happen.

Below are some of the best examples of digital transformation strategies that won. Check out these famous brands to inspire your inner entrepreneur.

Microsoft. For decades, Microsoft has been enjoying a dominant position in the desktop arena with an 80% market share. At the same time, its software division was dying a slow death when it came to mobile operating systems. As competition from Apple and Amazon increased, Microsoft changed its strategy by shifting focus from traditional software to cloud-based solutions. The company took a U-turn and started building partnerships with software and technology vendors, a move you wouldn’t expect from such a large company.

Nike. The worldwide sportswear brand began to slow down in 2010. To turn things around, the company decided to transform its brand by adopting more accurate data analytics, embracing e-commerce technology, and utilizing direct-to-customer sales. As a result, the development cycle was shortened, which allowed the company to quickly launch new products. By improving data analytics and connecting with their customers at a personal level, Nike succeeded in delivering products to customers bypassing third-party resellers.

Lego. Despite its enormous success and being extremely well-known worldwide, the company has been through some difficult times and found itself on the verge of bankruptcy in 2004. This was when it decided digital transformation was the only way to succeed. Lego managed to diversify its business model by developing other business lines on top of selling toys and shifted the focus of its value proposition beyond entertainment. The company started producing movies, video games, software, etc., including things like Lego Digital Designer, which allows you to design your own structures and share them with other Lego fans.

How to set your business up for a successful digital transformation

A key element behind every successful digital transformation story is understanding the potential of your technology. Again, it’s not about how much faster things can be done, but how you should adapt your business processes to make your technology investments work.

Let’s outline the crucial steps required to get your business prepared for whatever comes your way. Keep in mind that these steps should be adaptable and evolve with your business and the digital landscape’s changing priorities.

Step 1.

Estimate how much funds you can allocate. Digital transformation is not a one-time procedure but a continuous approach to how you do business. It’ll affect your entire business. A professional and transparent approach to budget planning will help you structure your transformation strategy, allocate resources, and define the scope.

Step 2.

Evaluate your business’s current state. Companies often make the mistake of undergoing digital transformation assuming they can simply relocate their existing technology using a new platform or system. It’s actually very challenging to figure out where you’re going without knowing where you’re starting. That’s why it’s essential to conduct an evaluation of your organization’s culture and workforce skillset, map out existing processes and roles, identify opportunities and pain points that need to be addressed. By doing so, you’ll get all the information you need to make strategic decisions about your digital processes and the resources needed to make it happen.

Step 3.

Identify your digital goals and possible outcomes. Now that you have a clear understanding of where you are, it’s time to start thinking about the future. What do you hope to achieve? What experience are you going to create for your employees and customers? Be confident and ambitious in your vision. The changes your business is about to undergo will most likely be dramatic and irreversible.

Step 4.

Create a digital transformation roadmap. Next, you need a timeline with milestones, benchmarks, priorities, and key players for each part of the plan. Your roadmap should include reframing infrastructure, reskilling existing employees (or recruiting new ones).

Step 5.

Equip yourself with the proper toolset. Inevitably, you’ll have to update your tech stack while transferring to a more agile development process.

That’s why we’ve pulled together a selection of top-tier digital tools that will help make your DT journey a smooth one.

Trello. A visual project management app like this is a must-have. You need it to keep your team on the same page and create transparency into different projects. With Trello, you can quickly locate bottlenecks and make sure everything is done on time.

Slack. A powerful app for team communication and collaboration that many consider irreplaceable. It allows you to create different channels for different projects, teams or conversations. Users are notified about updates via a channel they’re subscribed to, without being confused by details they don’t need. Regardless of how small or large your team is, Slack can keep everyone in the loop.

airSlate. When businesses start their digital transformation journey, they often find themselves stuck in a type of hostage situation where each part of their workflow is owned by a separate service vendor. airSlate provides all the tools you need to complete and automate your workflow in a single Workspace without having to pay extra for third-party solutions and API-integrations.

Office 365. The best tools are not necessarily new. Most people are familiar with Microsoft products, but on top of that, Office 365 includes an entire suite of business tools, including Exchange, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams. As a matter of fact, today’s Office may have all the tools you need at a price you can afford.

signNow. E-signature, document automation, and digital forms for sending and signing documents are essential. Whether you’re moving your entire operation online or just streamlining your business processes, signNow can help.

What this all means

As we figured out before, successful digital transformation relies on a clear plan with top-down adoption and support. As a matter of fact, it’s more than just a company’s ability to streamline internal processes. Real success lies in a company’s ability to make customers’ lives better — whether those customers are buyers, patients, students, or otherwise. That’s why a successful digital transformation strategy should be focused on driving value to the customer.

Digital transformation begins and ends with how you engage with customers. Whether it’s hitching a ride with the tap of a screen or filling out your tax return, improving customer experience should become your business’s end goal.

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