2020 taught the world many things. It revealed the fragility of our global economy and the resilience of the human spirit. In a business context, it saw digital transformation speed up at a breakneck pace.
The companies that were able to adopt new technologies in the face of adversity were able to stay afloat and, in many cases, thrive. The ones that had trouble were unable to cope with the new reality.
Even if you weren’t able to get in front of the challenges at the time, there’s still an opportunity to make the most of newer technology to aid digital transformation. This guide will share a few steps you can use to make the transition smoother.
Identify where you’re lagging behind
Digital transformation is a wide-reaching term that can mean everything from using an electronic signature generator to sign documents and speed up agreement completion to using an entire work process management system.
Not every aspect of digital transformation will be applicable to your business. For example, if you run a retail store, you may not have much need for cloud computing resources. If you’re a software company, you likely don’t have need a cloud-based inventory management system.
These are obvious examples but it can be easy to overdo your digital transformation initiatives and be stuck with tools and standard operating procedures you don’t need.
Use the following questions to help identify whether or not you’re lagging behind in specific areas:
- How are we currently performing this process?
- Are there any tools that can help us do this more efficiently?
- Will we save money or make more money by using this tool?
- Will the tool help us increase or create a competitive advantage?
These are just a few questions to get you started. You may have other criteria you want to evaluate your business with and that’s fine. The most important thing is clearly making the case for any area where you may be lagging behind.
Shortlist specific vendors
Once you have a clear idea about where you can use technology to aid your digital transformation, it’s time to start looking for companies that offer those solutions.
For every functional area in your business, there are multiple vendors that can help you become more efficient. It’s important to understand what they bring to the table and the specific drawbacks of their platform.
Your budget. This is one of the major considerations. It doesn’t matter how good a piece of technology is it’s too expensive for you to afford. Most tools work by saving you money or helping you make more money. The question is, how long it takes to become value-adding.
Many platforms take considerable time to deploy (not all) and train your team. Can your organization foot the costs associated with that and then wait until it becomes ROI positive?
Ease of use. If no one can use it then it’s as good as not having it. Whatever tools you adopt to aid with digital transformation should have a relatively easy learning curve. It shouldn’t require specially trained staff to keep it running.
Who it’s designed to serve. Tools may seem to do the same thing on the surface but they’re designed for different kinds of customers. For example, there are email marketing tools made for eCommerce brands and those made for bloggers. You could use either one no matter what kind of brand you are but you wouldn’t get the most out of it if you’re not in their target audience.
Create a plan of action
The next step is to determine exactly how you’re going to roll out all these changes. Many digital transformation initiatives have been derailed because they were too ambitious. People inherently kickback against change no matter how beneficial it may be in the long run.
If you’re spearheading a digital transformation campaign, it’s important to be aware of this fact. Create an action plan that rolls out small aspects of your overall change at a time.
For example, if you’re trying to recreate 5 legacy processes in your business, roll them out one at a time and over-communicate why the changes you’re making are important. You may start with your project management processes then move on to inventory management processes.
Try to avoid starting on another initiative without finishing the first one. It may appear to take longer on paper but it’ll end up saving you a lot of time because you get it right the first time and there’s more buy-in from members of your organization.
Move at your own pace
It can feel like everyone is moving faster than you and getting more done. This may or may not be true but it’s essential that you move at your own pace.
Think of it like raising a child. There are milestones that are recommended for children to hit at certain points but some kids are faster and other kids are slower. You don’t start worrying about a child’s development until they’re well behind what’s expected of them.
Felix Yim, co-founder of GrowthBoost has this to say on the importance of sustainable growth “It’s all too common in the startup world to see companies valuing growth over all else, to the point where critical numbers such as aiming for a healthy CPC (cost per acquisition) is disregarded and eventually leads to cash flow issues or internal process falling behind and chaos within the company. Growth is important but move at your own pace.”
The same can be said for your digital transformation journey. You don’t start worrying about it until you’re well behind the milestones you set for yourself. It’s a novel experience for everyone involved so everyone deserves a little slack.
Digital transformation is more than a buzzword. It’s sweeping through every industry at a breakneck pace. If you ignore it then you’ll eventually be left behind. If you rush it then it can cause more harm than good in the short term.
This guide has laid out simple steps you can take to ensure your digital transformation initiatives yield positive results. When done well, you’ll be able to get ahead of the competition and set yourself up for success years into the future.