Digital Transformation — it’s one of those new terms that get thrown around a lot but what does it actually mean and how does it apply to your business?
The phrase digital transformation conjures up images of large corporations with ageing business practices needing to modernize, thus by calling in one of the big five consultancy firms, appointing a CIO and making large business altering changes over a period of years.
Let’s get straight to the point — Digital transformation applies to businesses of all sizes and types.
Digital Transformation is the application of technology to certain business processes or products that brings about a positive change and modernization. This can be effected internally or on the client facing aspects. It can touch certain areas of the business or all aspects of the business.
Some examples of projects that can be classed as digital transformation
- A medium sized company — Installation of a new time tracking and billing system directly linked to accounts and reporting
- A local boutique store — creation of an online store presence and strategy opening up a global sales channel
- An enterprise — finding new innovative ways to deliver its core technology directly to clients
We will focus on point number three above (the Enterprise) for the rest of this article as this aspect of Digital transformation is where Purpledecks core expertise lie.
The process of identifying how to transform digitally is of course more complex than just applying technology. There is no formula as each company and scenario are different but the common traits often are:
- Gaining a full understanding of where the problem/opportunity lies.
- What exact area of the business is it? Who are the stakeholders? What other areas of the business does it touch?
- What are the pain points? How can technology solve them?
- What are the opportunities — how will technology help to deliver them?
- What are the key strengths and advantages the business currently has?
- Who are the users? Do we know how they will use it and the context of usage?
- What exactly is the proposed technology solution?
- What is the level of expertise and skill within the business to take advantage of the technology transformation? Can existing staff take this on? Do you need to hire new staff? Is there a general buy in among staff to undertake the transformation and how will it be achieved?
- Who are the final decision makers and what needs to be demonstrated to them in order to proceed?
- Are there any company policies that might block this kind of technology solution?
- How much will it cost and do you have budget? Have you budgeted for the additional cost to run a successful service?
- What are the user stories?
- Can we prove this will work before we build it? Should we carry out research?
- Any many more ….
This is essentially a SWOT analysis but if carried out correctly within the context of digital transformation it can be highly effective.
Creation of the technology by itself is not enough. Companies should not fall into the trap of thinking that once you build it you just let it out there and everything will be fine. New technology needs to be integrated and managed.
Therefore a full go-live plan is required:
- Put in place the new teams
- Team education
- Team Onboarding — its always wise to create multiple virtual test runs before going live. Use real data where possible.
- Do you need to migrate existing user data and accounts?
- Once this system goes live you need to ensure that your team are ready to handle the demands of the updated business practices that new technology brings
- Who is going to manage and maintain the technology system? What happens if something goes wrong? Is this in house or do you have a Service Level Agreement with your supplier?
- Work with your end users to ensure it will run as smoothly as possible (this is most important when dealing directly with consumers)
- Ensure all other impacted teams are informed and ready and have bought in
- Communications & Marketing — do you have a plan built around this
- Finance & accounting — Are they on board and ready for new results and different types of metrics?
- Review, Monitor and improve
Please bear in mind that this is a very slimmed down summary of some critical items during a launch.
Aspects of a digital transformation
- Application of a digital transformation should be measurable. This is key- before you begin a transformation project you need to understand what are the measurements of success?
- The business needs to understand it has a problem/opportunity and needs to be willing to explore possible solutions
- Business structure change — often a digital transformation will involve a change in business structure. New teams need to be built to manage the technology, changes in mindset must evolve to deal with these new ways of thinking and understanding the metrics and demands of technology interactions and how to feed this back into management decisions.
- Great improvements, new insights and data can be achieved — however what are you going to do with this data? Continuous improvement needs to be a key goal.
- Technology moves fast as does its users. You need to ensure you have a plan to deal with this.
What about startups?
Startups are new businesses — they don’t need to apply Digital Transformation, right? No, this is incorrect!
We have worked with many startups to achieve Digital Transformation. Like all businesses Startups have a key strength — something they are good at. Lets say its some kind of special algorithm devised by a team with an in-depth understanding of optics. Often these teams can spend a number of years perfecting their algorithm. At the end of this time they might need to productize it. As optics and not consumer products is their core skills they will need to engage with a third party to help bring the transformation skills. Often these skills are not something that they wish to retain on their team long term. Its easy to work with a partner to achieve this.
This is more typical of many startups that you might expect — especially startups that spin out from an academic or research background.
Digital Transformation is something that can help improve your business and make the lives of both your staff and clients better. Digital Transformation can be executed on parts of the business and not the whole business. However, it’s a project that needs to be well thought through, not rushed and excellently executed in order to reap the benefits.
If you feel that some aspect of your business can benefit from a digital transformation then we recommend you identify a core partner to work with you who will combine your strengths and knowledge with their experiences and executing positive digital change.
The technology and the opportunities are out there. Even smaller phased transitions can produce results. Don’t wait until its too late to positively embrace change and the future!
Digital Transformations — Purpledecks help companies to formulate digital products & services around their core technology and strengths.