What is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation is probably a phrase that you have heard or read during the past few years as it has been widely used by analysts, CEOs and thought leaders when discussing how businesses can stay competitive and relevant in this digital world.

In fact, it’s this final statement that defines what Digital Transformation actually is. It’s not a mind-blowing concept just for the elite – it’s simply understanding how to do business in a digital world.

Digital technology is already engrained into all aspects of businesses – whether this is actually recognised or not – through the adoption of business software, mobile technology and new machinery. It’s just how far do you exploit it?

And this is the big question in relation to transformation.

Every business is different and will have its own agenda or strategy, so it is difficult to give a specific definition of digital transformation. However, it’s widely accepted that it’s the adoption and integration of digital technology, and thinking, into every aspect of the business that leads to a fundamental change in the way in which businesses operate and interact with customers.

Why does it matter?

Quite simply, businesses that don’t start thinking about their digital strategy will be left behind.

Customer demands are extremely high and they expect services and purchasing experiences to run smoothly, be mobile friendly and secure in this digital age. If the business systems in place are not working, then customers will simply avoid the product or service and go elsewhere.

Likewise, the workforce also needs to be fully engaged and have the tools at their disposal to perform their jobs in the most efficient and productive way possible. This can range from utilising mobile devices and introducing intuitive business systems to removing manual processes through automation to enable them to concentrate on more productive tasks.

A good user experience for both customers and employees is critical.

Modern technology has also made it extremely easy for new disruptive businesses to be established and replace activities and services traditionally carried out by more established companies. Organisations therefore need to make sure that they stay competitive by not only delivering products and services that customers are demanding, but also in an extremely efficient and customer centric manner.

Business strategy and survival will be determined by the way that digital technology is deployed and used, so every organisation needs to consider and constantly evaluate how effective its processes and systems are. This can range from the initial customer experience on the website or eCommerce store, to include more targeted activities such as predictive analytics, accounting, accurate business forecasting, sales and marketing, real time monitoring and instant customer support. The technology needs to be in place in order to be able to adapt and react to market forces and facilitate growth.

There are many reasons why digital transformation is needed, but whatever the end goal is, the customer must always be at the core of your strategy. With this focus, everyone in the organisation will be working towards a common goal and aligned around a common cause.

What can be done?

The majority of businesses will already have started implementing digital transformation in some form or another through the use of CRM / ERP systems and social media to analytics and distribution. However, it is the way that these systems and devices interact together that will determine the success of the business.

Adopting digital transformation affects every part of the business. Everyone needs to be involved from the top to the bottom – from accounts and marketing to management and the warehouse. As each department relies on its own technology to operate, these systems and technical devices need to be connected and fully integrated in order to work smoothly.

It’s almost impossible to transform everything overnight, but organisations can easily start to focus on key aspects of the business that need to be addressed and identify opportunities that can help bring people, data and processes together to deliver a great customer experience and maintain a competitive advantage in a digital world.