Everyone's doing it, so it must be a thing,
Digital Transformation seems to be all the 'buzz' at the moment with businesses large and small, startups to well-established organisations, frantically trying to understand what it all means, what effect it will have on their business, and what it is they need to do to keep up.
But before anyone can decide what needs to be done, the simple question they need to ask is, ‘What is Digital Transformation?’
What it suggests is a necessary technological evolution of a business's processes, systems and competencies. It means looking to digital to find solutions to do things better. It means finding better ways to manage increasing volumes of information, be more connected (internally and with the outside world) and to improve the effectiveness of operational capabilities.
Ok that makes sense, but where on earth do you get started?
Digital Transformation begins by identifying the areas of a business that can be automated and optimized. An exercise that starts with a thorough review of all operations (the simple and the complex) to assess their current state, how they are effective or ineffective and what's causing them to be so. Once assessed, only then can solutions to address how automation can alleviate inefficiencies, remove barriers, stop bottle necks, lower costs and generally increase quality, be prioritised.
Sidenote: I am using the negative here to drive home the need for change and using digital to alleviate shortcomings. Businesses that are experiencing major problems, which is the source of their need to transform digitally. This is not to say that organisations that are not experiencing the same problems are exempt from a need to transform themselves digitally. Whilst their need may not be as pressing, sooner or later the effect of outdated operations and capabilities will become a reality. So whether a business is experiencing problems or flourishing, it’s never too early or late to understand where the need for digital innovation is that will help with overall growth of the business.
So whether a business is experiencing problems or flourishing, it’s never too early or late to understand where the need for digital innovation is that will help with overall growth of the business.
Digital Transformation can seem daunting and complex. Well, it is actually. But it need not be so overwhelming that it stops a business in its tracks for fear of the task ahead. It’s important to keep things simple. Sometimes small changes can, and will, reap big results. It doesn't always take a complicated technological overhaul that only NASA engineers can understand, to show results. It's important not to get too overwhelmed with the scale of the task and keep it simple with small changes before looking for complex digital solutions that could do more damage than good.
And let's be realistic, a complete Digital Transformation of a business can be very expensive and take a lot of effort and time. But if the business can afford to navigate these hurdles successfully, the benefits most definitely outweigh the challenge!
Once you understand where your business needs attention (and possibly a digital solution) there is a myriad of readily available off the shelf products and services to choose from that will deliver solutions to digital strategy needs.
From simple, easily available cloud-based products like those in the Google Suit, or more adaptive EIP’s that serve as a single repository for information, assets and knowledge for staff, customers, suppliers, and even the public; or an ERP software developed as a businesses central nervous system like used in the manufacturing industry; whatever the need the solutions are already there.
When off the shelf products are not suitable for your business, there is the option of creating something from scratch to suit your needs. This can however be a very costly and time consuming exercise.
In summary, the important thing is that a Digital Transformation Strategy work for you and your business. There is no one size fits all solution. You can learn from another business, but simply adopting someone else’s transformation strategy can lead to big problems. Problems that will cost more time, more money and perhaps the life of your business as a result.
There is no one size fits all solution. You can learn from another business, but simply adopting someone else’s transformation strategy can lead to big problems.
Understand your own needs. Develop your own Digital Transformation Strategy, then seek professional partners (if it can't be done internally) to assess where the opportunities are and make the necessary changes in your business.
It's our ability to effectively fit suitable, productive technology solutions around business needs (where appropriate) that will address operational shortcomings and ultimately allow a business to stay on the edge in highly competitive industries and economies.