Whether willingly or unwillingly, most modern businesses are somewhere on the digital transformation journey.
Some are further along than others, some have acted because their hands have been forced, but ultimately every company is on a journey to digitally transform.
And why is digital business transformation so important?
To align a company’s mission with evolving consumer expectations.
Businesses are increasingly required to offer digital solutions to customer pain points. It makes sense to tackle issues using methods they’ve grown familiar with in a technological society.
Digital business transformation goes against the status quo, a notion many managers and executives find scary at the best of times.
In industries where digital disruptors are beginning to set the preference, established companies must innovate or risk becoming obsolete.
This often means transforming initiatives which have been built over a number of years.
Traditionally productive business approaches are losing relevance by the second. Everything has been brought into question in today’s digital age.
Digital device consumption is at an all time. Cisco predicts nearly 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020, an astonishing figure which reinforces the necessity of change.
Business innovation will likely be at the heart of organizational growth over the next ten years, driving efficiencies like productivity and customer experiences.
Before we look at some of the digital technologies transforming today’s businesses, let’s begin with a definition:
What is a Digital Business Transformation (DBT)?
DBT stems from the prophecy of genius Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte In 1995.
His revolutionary literature, particularly in the book ‘Being Digital’, explored the interchangeability of bits and atoms.
His concept derived from how information existing as atoms can be represented as bits on digital devices.
This insight was later applied throughout the growth of e-commerce, forming the original literature from which digital development was born.
Fascinating right? And to think Nicholas often gets left out of the conversation when discussing digital awareness.
His thinking formed the basis of many powerful information systems, for powerhouses like Walmart, FedEX and Frito-Lay. These companies used the model for shipment tracking and inventory management.
From early on these business leaders realized the significance of digital information, particularly how it can be applied to boost performance against less digitally aware competitors.
Fast-forward to today and companies are realizing the potential of digital innovation, with special regard to how they can differentiate by leveraging technology to increase productivity.
Organizations are implementing digital technologies at a faster rate than ever before. This is a start, but in today’s complex business environments being digitally savvy isn’t enough.
Companies must adopt a digital transformation strategy to maintain efficiency in rapidly changing markets.
Digital business transformation is a journey which must be navigated mindfully, a continuously evolving one with no set destination in mind.
Digital transformation addresses the incorporation of digital technologies as companies innovate business processes.
The end goal of the process is always the same: improving performance to add value to the customer.
Taking Advantage of Digital Technologies
Leaders of the pack have harnessed the power of digital technologies, capitalizing on these to improve performance.
Digital awareness is the first step to transformation, and there are four main technologies at the root of transforming organizations into digital havens.
These are categorized as AMPS, an acronym for the following elements:
Analytical tools and applications
These will help you analyze and extract value from the considerable quantities of data at our disposal.
New data is being generated at lightning speed, and these tools and applications help us make sense of it.
Mobile tools and applications
Mobile internet use is at an all time high, so it makes sense to meet consumers on common ground.
Companies should focus on mobile-first strategies which optimize mobile solutions for maximum customer benefit.
An embrace for digital platforms which facilitate data sharing.
Digital libraries allow valuable business resources to be shared on a widespread scale.
Social media enables two-way communication between company and consumer.
Information effortlessly flows between critical stakeholders, while social media is leveraged to monitor industry trends, competitor moves and customer perception/expectations.
How Can You Speed up the Process?
We’ve clearly established the importance of digitalization, but how exactly should you reinvent your business at a rate conducive to gaining a competitive edge?
Let’s assess some critical points to speed up digital business transformation:
Redesign Your Current Business Model
Taking big steps towards change can be daunting, so most companies prefer to transition one step at a time.
The first step towards transformation is acknowledging your current business model is holding you back.
Most factions go wrong when they reshape their business model without extending too far beyond their original position.
In today’s age a complete overhaul is often necessary, especially to incorporate digital technologies which didn’t exist when business models were first structured.
Companies must embrace practices which fall far from their original intentions as part of a continuous improvement philosophy.
In a digitally disruptive age nothing can be assumed.
Digital business transformation can take too long when companies take an incremental approach.
What’s more important is companies think fast on their feet and act quickly to accommodate new technology.
There are no fixed assumptions, so organizations must focus energy on exploring new transformation methods.
By exploring a range of future possibilities, businesses can better understand the initiatives which will be of benefit moving forward.
It helps to constantly focus on what does and doesn’t add value to your business in today’s climate, remembering to remain open and not cling on to one train of thought.
This requires discontinuous learning, a philosophy which opposes conventional business thinking.
By exploring a range of future possibilities businesses can embrace a willingness to constantly update and never stagnate.
It’s Not a Free-for-all!
Simultaneously explore future-focused initiatives, those which are likely to reap rewards at a later date.
Predicting what’s around the corner is more difficult than ever, but to be progressive you must adopt a range of tactics to elevate your business model to accommodate new changes.
Hone in on initiatives which will aid your business’s understanding of whether it can build a competitive advantage. This will help you eliminate those which are unlikely to be cost-effective.
Breaking up your business model tests is a great idea.
This will help you safeguard against the disruption which can ensure when too many initiatives are instigated at once.
Learn at Scale
Avoid throwing your staff in at the deep end and expecting them to understand new processes straight away.
This can put pressure on your team, a pressure which can be avoided by slowly building processes and programs.
Doing so will help your team learn at a pace conducive to them embracing the topics at hand,. You’ll also avoid the chaos of sharing considerably innovative knowledge at once.
Disseminate knowledge at scale for optimal results.