Directors and executives across many industries are agreeing on one thing—undergoing a digital transformation has become a must-do process for everyone. This feeling is so strong that a recent survey revealed that decision-makers, owners, and CEOs consider digital transformation as their number one risk. The reason for that? They feel that if their companies can’t transform quickly, they’ll be left out by companies that were born digital. However, knowing that a digital transformation is needed is only the beginning.
Actually doing so, is a whole other story. And if you don’t believe that, ask the 70% of companies that underwent digital transformations and failed to reach their goals. The numbers are staggering: of the $1.3 trillion spent on those initiatives, $900 billion went to waste. It wasn’t enough for those businesses to have worked with software development companies—there were fundamental flaws that doomed their initiatives from the get-go.
The most important one—to believe that digital transformation is only about modernizing procedures and processes with a digital approach. It takes more than hiring software development services to achieve a successful digital transformation. It takes knowing that such a process needs to profoundly change business through 5 key stages. Only by acknowledging that and by modifying the right issues in each of those areas will your digital transformation be successful.
Let’s take a look at those 5 stages.
1. Changing leadership
Something as radical and profound as a digital transformation couldn’t be possible without business leaders being on board. If you fail to acknowledge the importance of leveraging technological solutions in your company, then how can you expect the rest to do it? Even if you aren’t among the executive team, you need to convince the leaders about the need for this transformation.
Why? Because only the leaders can deliver a strong message to the whole company about its importance while also leading by example and fostering its implementation on an enterprise-wide level. Besides, digital transformation will need time and money for its implementation, which can only come from an executive level’s approval.
2. Changing communication with customers
Today, we live in a world where customers mostly dictate their relationship with brands and companies. That’s because they hold a newfound power: if they don’t like what you offer, how you offer it or even how you treat them, they will go over to the competition. That’s why it is so important for a digital transformation to consider customers and their interactions with you.
Digital channels have brought a huge change in those interactions, making them faster, direct, and convenient. Of course, those same channels have reshaped what customers are expecting, with instant gratification being now the most desired thing from interactions with companies.
This means that a digital transformation has to go through a stage where all interactions and communications with the clients are analyzed to see how software development providers can help improve them. Maybe it’s time for you to implement a virtual customer service platform or perhaps you need a mobile app. Examining your clients’ habits and interactions will give you clues as to how to proceed.
However, this stage doesn’t end there. Creating digital channels for better interactions with your customers is one thing, but you definitely have to pay attention to what happens internally to support that. So, you’ll also have to take a look at your inner processes when it comes to dealing with customers because there surely are opportunities for digital transformation in there as well.
In other words, you need to consider all the interaction points a client could potentially use and link them all together. This could result in the development of an internal ticket platform to handle customer service, record-keeping software capable of bringing up the client’s past interactions on-demand, or some other more sophisticated tools to collaborate between areas in-company to elevate the customer’s overall experience.
3. Changing data management processes
Given the numerous sources from where you can get information, it’s safe to say that this is the age of data. For companies, that means they can get their hands on a lot of information that can end up being very useful for their daily tasks, from marketing and sales to accounting. Yet, to reap the many benefits you can get out of that massive amount of data, you need to handle it properly.
This implies a stage within the digital transformation that will have you looking at how you gather new information and what you do with it. Collecting it just for the sake of storing it for later is practically the same as doing nothing. You need to use that data to get valuable and actionable insights. But for that to happen, you need integrated and consistent systems that all of your company can take advantage of.
At this stage, you can get in touch with a software development outsourcing company to create your own big data and analysis platform. Specific software can gather and process all incoming data about customers, transactions, services, assets, content and more, to offer you new points of view about your business.
This step in the transformation is needed because almost all industries are rapidly changing with the introduction of digital tools. The proper handling of data (which involves predictive analytics, big data, and artificial intelligence) is a key process you need to implement to ensure that your whole business is making the most out of the information that can be collected.
4. Changing the internal operations
Up until now, the previous stages needed you to work on more or less compartmentalized areas to lay the foundations for the overall digital transformation. This fourth stage is where it all starts to come together. That’s because this is the stage where the digitalization applied in each area of your business will be connected to the rest of the available digital tools.
In other words, here is where you can tie products, services, assets, team members, customers, and providers up in one single unit that can be managed more efficiently. This means that all internal processes are “talking” to each other to work symbiotically. Thus, sales and marketing can share a lot of information with the finance and accounting depts which, in turn, could lead up to the executive board or informing the quality department.
The basic idea of this stage is to create connections between the digital solutions implemented in the previous stages to solidify a new digital infrastructure. The goal? To achieve a higher level of availability, reliability, and scalability through that digital structure. If done right, you could benefit by optimizing a lot of internal processes that could lead to a reduction of complexity and redundancy, mitigation of risks and more efficient cost management.
5. Changing the workforce
This might feel like the last stage, chronologically speaking, but in reality, it is a step that you’ll definitely want to take simultaneously with the rest. That’s because changing the mindset of the people that are working with you will take time to bear results. However, doing it is essential for the success of your digital transformation.
That’s because you can have the best digital tools the outsourcing of software development can get you but if your team members don’t know how to use them (or flat-out refuse to), then your transformation is doomed. So, what do you have to do? Offer continuous training for people across departments to ensure they are properly playing the role you’re expecting from them.
Also, you need to ensure that everyone knows and understands the value of a digital transformation. In short, you need to turn them all into digital advocates. Only by convincing them (much in the same way you did with leaders) will everyone play their part and contribute to the growth of a successful digital culture within your business.
All of the stages detailed above are necessary to achieve a valuable digital transformation. Without one of them, you can get close, but you’ll never get the full benefits of being a digital business. From changing the mindset of the leadership and team members to optimizing the internal processes and adjusting the customer’s interactions, there are a lot of tasks that make up a fruitful digital transformation.
There’s one final thing that needs to be said. Though we were talking about achieving a digital transformation throughout the article, it’s fair to clarify that a process of this sort never actually ends. As new technologies emerge, new roles are created and new processes are designed, any digital business will be adjusting itself to fit the new context and keep leveraging the benefits of technology, regardless of its form.
Understanding this is as important as understanding the importance of the 5 stages detailed above.