Jan 19, 2024
3 min read
The relevance of digital transformation
As we have already discussed the topic of digital transformation in one of our previous articles, there’s no need to restate all the basics. The critical pieces of information needed to understand how to accelerate it are:
- Digital acceleration is not only about adopting new technologies but, even more importantly, about transforming the way in which the whole business operates.
- The pandemic has revealed that digital transformation helps businesses to adapt to remote work, online shopping, and contactless payments.
- Initially, digital transformation seemed optional and far-reaching, but it has become essential for businesses that strive to survive and thrive in a post-pandemic world.
Key strategies for accelerating digital transformation
A careful and goal-oriented approach is a must for every multi-layered process. Especially with those who can open many new opportunities to innovate, optimise, and grow a business. Unlocking a world of digital possibilities requires implementing key strategies that help to accelerate the necessary change.
- Set clear objectives: Align your vision with business goals and find a way to measure them. Think about what you want to achieve through digital transformation. More customers? Easier adaptability? More business opportunities? Extending a portfolio of your products or services? No matter the goals, setting them will help you to allocate your resources effectively.
- Embrace the digital culture: Create a work environment that encourages innovation. Digital acceleration is not only about technology but also about people and culture. For example, consider switching entirely to remote work and observing how opportunities arise. Needing to synchronize people working from various locations and thus adapting new tools and solutions to do it effectively can give you many needed insights into your future clients' needs, habits, and behaviors.
- Bridge the technological gap: new technologies and tools must become your bread and butter. There's no better place to test and implement them than your work environment. Invest in training and development programs for your employees so they can leverage new technologies faster and more efficiently. Some areas to look into include the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. Who knows, maybe the intelligent espresso machine or fridge in your office could assist you and your employees in thinking outside the box, particularly if you'd relieve them from dull and repetitive tasks using cutting-edge AI technology and encourage them to share their ideas through a cloud drive.
- Prioritize the customer experience: nowadays, we’re used to having our needs fulfilled quickly and easily. Most of it can be handled online, and seamless integrations aren’t desired anymore. They’re required. With so many options available, customers can choose from a variety of products and services and they’ll change their provider without hesitation if they encounter any difficulties. Understanding those preferences and accounting for them in the company’s branding, tone of voice, and digital solutions is a must.
How to start accelerating the digital transformation?
First, assess your current state. Try to be honest about it. If you know you won’t be able to stay objective, hire an expert for a consultation. It might be a difficult task, all thanks to the infamous force of habit. You may consider all your business solutions intuitive and easy to learn, but please remember that you have to deal with them on a daily basis. There are certainly some drawbacks to using outdated technology, which everybody in your company is used to. For example, the onboarding process of new employees accustomed to more modern solutions might take longer. This is the first sign that there’s definitely room for improvement.
Secondly, develop a roadmap. Set clear timeframes for achieving digital acceleration goals. Prioritize and allocate your resources accordingly.
Thirdly, engage the stakeholders. Involve everybody, from employees through customers to partners and suppliers—co-create solutions in multidisciplinary teams. Be open about the process you’ve embarked on. You might gain valuable insights and information during a weekly brainstorming session or engage with your brand’s community. Listen to feedback and make notes.
Remember to measure your actions' results to ensure you’re on the right track.
The benefits of accelerating digital transformation
We've already discussed the key strategies for accelerating digital transformation and all the necessary steps you need to take to benefit from it. The specific list of tasks is nearly impossible to encompass since it differs from market to market and business to business. It's much easier to talk about what accelerating digital transformation brings to the table. There's already a lot of information about its pros. However, if you're still unconvinced that this is the way to go, you must set your eyes on the prize–potential competitive advantages you can gain.
- Increased innovation: more innovation means more revenue stream and more opportunities to grow your business. Creating new products and services especially tailored for your future customers and adopting new business models can teach you how to adapt to any obstacles you might encounter on your way to success. As accelerating digital transformation requires collaboration, you might end up with solutions that perfectly meet your needs only because your team stumbled upon a brilliant, innovative idea.
- Enhanced customer experience: nowadays, the implementation of personalized and seamless experiences is the main difference between thriving and failing businesses. Accelerating digital transformation helps you understand your customers' behavior and preferences to act faster and more accordingly. With this approach, you can begin to quickly develop, test and bring new ideas to the market. If you also implement an omnichannel presence, you will find your customers everywhere, utilizing their preferred means of contact.
- Reduced operational costs: who wouldn't want their business operation to be so streamlined that they can focus solely on the business goals? By accelerating digital transformation, you can reduce costs by investing in the technology that benefits all your company's stakeholders, improving efficiency and reducing errors. For example, the mere use of cloud computing solutions might erase the need for on-premise infrastructure and associated costs.
- Freed resources: automating the most repetitive and manual tasks reduces the need for human intervention and thus frees up your company's resources for more strategic tasks, like accelerating digital transformation even more!
- Robust data analysis: accelerating digital transformation requires measuring the impact of your actions, which can be further used to identify many caveats of your current business strategy. Remember that data-driven and real-time insights enable you to make better-informed decisions.
Impact of pandemic on accelerating digital transformation
It’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on accelerating digital transformation. But how exactly did it contribute? Fortunately, the relevant metrics were already assessed by McKinsey Global, among others. The digitalization of companies’ internal operations and customer and supply chain interactions has reached a level only expected after 3-4 years. Moreover, without the crisis, the portfolios of digital and digitally enabled products would take 7 years to rise to the current levels. On top of that, respondents were three times more likely to say that at least 80% of their customer interactions are digital nowadays. According to the IMF, digitalization in advanced economies accelerated by 6% as new strategies and practices developed. The Gartner survey found that 69% of boards of directors say the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital business initiatives.
What challenges might companies face in accelerating digital transformation?
For a start, it requires a clear vision and strong leadership to support the collaborative culture that can guide the change process. When there’s no well-defined strategy, companies may encounter confusion, resistance, or even failure in an attempt to accelerate their digital transformation. Another challenge lies in complex software and technology. It can be hard to integrate it with the existing systems and processes. Digitalization requires employees to adopt new behaviors, learn new skills, and embrace new working methods. It can be tough if they’re not motivated, trained, or supported.
How important is the customer experience in accelerating digital transformation?
According to Gartner, brands focusing on CX can boast a 3x greater stock performance than their competitors, who don’t pay much attention to customer experience. Thus, good CX can fund digital transformation acceleration by attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. It’s also the driving force behind it – to create new value propositions for your customers, you must incorporate new technology as fast and comprehensively as possible.
Can small businesses also accelerate digital transformation?
Yes, with the right mindset, strategy, resources, and support. Accelerating digital transformation can help small businesses stay ahead of their competitors, expand their market reach, and improve efficiency. By adopting modern technology, small companies can bridge the gap between them and larger businesses.